Comic writing is the real truth

A short blog to draw attention to an interview with Paul Murray in the Guardian last weekend, to mark the arrival of his third novel The Mark and the Void.

The book, which revolves around a fictional foreign bank in the IFSC in Dublin, a French banker, an Irish writer called Paul and the financial collapse, is published this week.

Paul Murray | The Mark and the Void

Paul Murray (Pic via Patrick Bolger / The Guardian)

As Murray’s first novel since the lavishly praised (and deservedly so) Skippy Dies five years ago, expectations are high but the early signs are that it doesn’t disappoint.

Speaking to journalist and broadcaster Sinéad Gleeson at the Hay Festival recently, Murray spoke revealingly, and highly entertainingly, about the financial services sector, so it will be no surprise that the label “tragicomedy” has again been wheeled out.

And he expanded on that in the Guardian, outlining the proud tradition – Beckett, Pynchon, Amis, Franzen – which he is doing his best to uphold.

My favourite incident in literature [is] in Waiting for Godot, when Estragon takes off his belt to hang himself and his pants fall down. This is reality. In the midst of the blackness there is humour. Comic writing seems a truer way of reflecting the actuality of life, and one that can take in the darkest situations, from economic catastrophe to war.

Without wanting to be crass, something like ISIS is terrifying, and also ludicrous. Medieval holy warriors with a YouTube channel? Most of the world’s wrongs are caused by people taking themselves and their ideas too seriously, so the novel might be an attempt at curbing that.

2 thoughts on “Comic writing is the real truth

    1. It is a stretch.

      In lots of ways, the best funny writing these days is for children. Our two (aged 6 and 4) loved Julian Gough’s first book for children, Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits (just out from Hachette Children’s). Good cover quote from Neil Gaiman, which can’t do any harm. Gaiman is another who can mix the funny stuff with the dark stuff.

      Gough has previously written plenty for adults. I haven’t read all of his by any means, but his short story that was nominated for the BBC Short Story Award a couple of years ago, The iHole, was very darkly funny. A satirical take on modern life and technology, as they say.

      Thanks for the comment – and sorry for the delay in responding…


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