Monday, March 12, 2007

A Thing Or Two About Ken Bruen . . .

by Sean Chercover

It has come to my attention that this is International Ken Bruen Appreciation Day.

Haven’t read Ken Bruen? You are in for a treat. Ken Bruen’s novels are, quite simply, some of the best crime fiction written in this day or any other day. His novels touch both the sacred and the profane, and show us that sometimes they are one and the same.

Yes, novels, but you could also use the term prose poetry and you wouldn’t be lying. Ken’s use of language is that good. He’s a jaw-droppingly great wordsmith, and if you write fiction, you must be jealous. I know I am. What the rest of us need a page to say, Ken says in one sentence. One perfect little sentence that packs more emotional wallop than all the ham-fisted heaping of words upon words. How the hell does he do it?

And something more. Ken’s books take us to very dark places, but they bring us back again, with a new perspective on the world. At once funny and tragic, his novels leave us emotionally shattered, but somehow spiritually cleansed. Bruen’s characters may not catch a glimpse of redemption, but his readers do. No White Hats and Black Hats for Ken Bruen. Ken doesn’t sit in judgment over the characters he creates, doesn’t label them Good Guys and Bad Guys. More determined to understand than to judge, Ken introduces us to some of the most deeply disturbed, pathologically antisocial members of our odd little species, and does so in a way that makes us say, “Yes, this too is what it means to be human.”

That’s a thing or two about Ken Bruen, the writer.

And then there’s Ken Bruen, the man. But that shit is personal, and I’m not really good at talking in public about people I love. Suffice it to say that Ken is one of the most warmhearted, generous, honest and brave people I’ve ever had the good fortune to call a mentor, and a friend.

So, on International Ken Bruen Appreciation Day, raise a pint of Guinness and a slug of Bushmills in the general direction of Ireland, and then go out there and buy a book written by the man himself.

Hell, buy two; they’re small.