Tuesday, September 01, 2009

RIP Gordon Burn January 16, 1948 - July 17, 2009

The finest living English writer is now among the dead, which ups the competition considerably. Somehow I only just found out.

He rendered true crime as fiction; his novels read like brilliant reportage. His work trounced any easy distinctions between the real and the imagined. Google for obits. They mostly read the same, paragraphs quickly garnered from his publisher's press release. His work: fiction -start with 'Alma Cogan'; true crime - if you can go there- 'Happy Like Murderers', his startling account of Fred and Rosemary West. His sport writing- 'Pocket Money' and 'Best and Edwards' got me interested in Snooker and Football respectively; I previously had no interest in sport. I only read them because they were the work of England's finest living writer.


This blog has been neglected because I've managed to scrape together some, largely pseudonymous, paid writing work. The Police Diver: Commercial Division. Once I have established a rhythm the Notebook will return to form, I promise.


Óscar García said...

Sorry to read that.

I have read "Happy as murderers" and it is one of the best books in my whole life. It is mesmerizing how good Burn uses language to show the ill mind of the couple. Unfortunately, I think that in Spain is more difficult to find his work.

Nick Talbot said...

That's interesting. Have you read any of his fiction? If so, would you agree that it is largely un-translatable? His fiction contains much denser prose, neologisms and obscure English cultural references than his non-fiction. Amazing stuff, just on the right side of exhausting-to-read, a place where Iain Sinclair sometimes falls over.

I'm really sad about Gordon Burn; he definitely had more brilliant books in him. He only wrote brilliant books and he was only 61 years old.

Óscar García said...

No, I haven't yet. I have to check if more of his work is translated.

"Happy as murderers" seems very difficult to translate also. You know, when you read a book in other language than the original, for sure you always loose something, but I feel that, in this case, the difficult work was very well done.

And, as you say, it is a pity when someone dies when he is yet capable of developing his possibilities. It is like he has gone too soon.