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A Burnable Town

06 Aug

A Burnable Town

A Burnable Town (2006)

Somewhere somebody drops a pearl into a beaker of vinegar, challenging their companion’s eyes as it dissolves, just to make a point. And, just to make sure the point is made, they’re going to drink the vinegar.
I know people like that. I’ve had them look into my eyes. I’ve learned to break their stare.
Somewhere beyond the realm of thinking this person, this unfinished being, is supremely prepared – but for what? Not this waiting. This going to ground.
I have also learned that facts do not explain the world, but I will give you the facts relevant to my situation at the time, and I will try to explain.

Part le Carré, part Graham Greene… thoroughly compelling… cracking dialogue INDEPENDENT

Each word in this bleakly humorous novel promises to explode and bring light to the shadows… Davison never fails to surprise, compel and intrigue with dry philosophy and grim wit TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Davison writes well about betrayal and loss, and what matters most in this strain of fiction is the mood rather than chapter and verse. Maddening if you feel a bit left out; but possibly addictive. LITERARY REVIEW

 
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The Long Suit

06 Aug

The Long Suit

The Long Suit (2003)

I had my own troubles, some of which I had addressed. When they lifted me my plan had been to go to ground, let time pass and be vigilant. Like a Druid, I had come to count nights instead of days. I watched Clements talking to somebody at the end of the corridor. He was loud, but I couldn’t make out the words. The lower jaw seemed to have just the one spring action. He was like a thirsty dog drinking from a water pistol.

Davison writes with the intelligence and intent of a James Lee Burke, flecked with the mordant wit of a Kinky Friedman. ARENA

Sharp. Funny. Hip. Learned. Surprising …if you haven’t experienced Ireland’s equivalent of Graham Greene with a dash of Le Carre and the readability of Len Deighton, then treat yourself to The Long Suit. EVENING HERALD

Philip Davison is a gem of a writer, and this is a glittering read, deceptively leisurely in pace, with killer flashes just when you least expect them. THE IRISH TIMES

This is unlike any other crime novel you’ll read this year; funny, poignant and gripping by turns, it will leave Davison’s many fans eager for more. THE GOOD BOOK GUIDE

 
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McKenzie’s Friend

06 Aug

McKenzie's Friend

McKenzie’s Friend (2000)

I was on my way to nowhere in particular. I was forty-nine per cent asleep, but watching for a sign in the face of a stranger. I had convinced myself that nothing is ever finished. Somebody who is no longer with us assured me it was so. The forty-nine per cent, I decided, had shut down like an ailing machine. It was some kind of safety feature.

Chilly, elegant and disconcertingly comic. Rather like a collaboration between two notable Green(e)s – Graham and Henry – and quite safely described as original. LITERARY REVIEW

Davison shares Beckett’s knack for making the down-at-the-heel appear surreal. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

A subtle undercurrent of humour – well written, weird. TIME OUT

 
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The Crooked Man

06 Aug

The Crooked Man

The Crooked Man (1997)

Cabinet ministers have to be protected, even when they are out cheating on their wives. If a cabinet minister is out cheating on his wife he doesn’t want to bring his Special Branch bodyguards with him. He tries to give them the slip. He is happier knowing that they are guarding his wife and children while he is making his visit. If the jolly coppers know about his little ploy some new faces are drafted to cover those visits. As a matter of course they bring their expensive camera equipment and take some photographs. Taking account of these additional man hours it would appear that more tax-payers’ money is spent protecting the male cabinet minister than the female cabinet minister. She is either more faithful, or she is more cunning in conducting her affairs. If, however, the jolly coppers are not aware of our man giving them the slip, he continues to be protected at the cheaper rate.
Hamilton is in a position to hear about such affairs. His tentacles have a long reach. Officially, he is a lowly civil servant working for the Joint Intelligence Committee which operates out of the Cabinet Office. When he isn’t busy meeting people like me he is responsible for bringing together and presenting information from the different services. Hamilton serves more than one queen. He can poo–poo any suggestion that a politician be put under surveillance because of gossip or rumour. He can then put me on the job.

An exciting, literate thriller SUNDAY TIMES

As flawed heroes go, Harry Fielding must rank as among the best of them IRISH INDEPENDENT

Davison has perfectly captured, in short, clipped prose, the world of a man …whose only skills are survival and patience and whose basic decency is an inconvenience that he tries to overcome. Harry is compelling in his stubbornness to endure… It is his prosaic nature that makes him fascinating, and that makes The Crooked Man such a scarily convincing book. CRIME TIME

A darkly merry story about the individual in society… Davison’s lean and ultra-minimalist style evokes an atmosphere that is quite surreal. THE IRISH TIMES

 
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The Illustrator

06 Aug

The Illustrator

The Illustrator (1988)

“I had decided that there was no starting a new life. There is a minimal self to which some can retreat, to which others are transported by shock or failure. A less bruisable, more watchful self. Beyond that leanness is flux, the shallows of madness. A person might think themselves small enough to fall from a great height and splash down safely in the water well of a paint box, or, they might take refuge in a bag of leaves suspended from a tree. This is the nearest one gets to starting again.
I looked at my watch. Nurse Cummings would be calling soon.”

The Dublin-based author has a wicked ear for conversational quirks and the minutiae of life. The Illustrator is compulsively readable THE SUNDAY PRESS

What this slender, bittersweet tale does best is convey the sharp taste of overwhelming grief and loss, in a deceptively glib tone of wry, cool detachment. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

 
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Twist and Shout

06 Aug

Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout (1983)

“I know this skiffer in a bedsitter in Rathmines, so I went down there. There’s a lot of bedsitters down there, you know. The door was open so I went in. It was very dark – couldn’t see a thing. She wasn’t in so I went to sleep. When I woke up there was a policeman’s uniform hanging on the end of the bed and two pairs of motorbike gauntlets on the floor.”

* * *

‘‘Neither Avril nor myself can speak much German. We did a lot of pointing. We had trouble with the kilos. Worst of all, however, was buying the minced meat. Minced meat is not always on display in German butcher shops. They mince while you wait. It is very hard to mime minced meat.’’

Very alive and very funny, with a strong sense of irony. It’s also very relevant. IN DUBLIN

I now think that we may have a new writer of real creativity in Mr Davison IRISH INDEPENDENT

 
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The Book Thief’s Heartbeat

06 Aug

The Book Thief's Heartbeat

The Book Thief’s Heartbeat (1981)

“At twenty-nine I am by far the youngest attendant in the gallery. I feel at once safe and out of place; a discreet watcher with the detachment and self-sufficiency of a spy. Perhaps that is why I never stand at meeting places, but instead, prefer to watch from a short distance.”

Pre-eminently human… funny in the way that The Catcher in the Rye was funny. BOOKS IRELAND

Mr Davison has a gentle touch with words that allow them to filter through the mind, leaving a residue of warmth and familiar recognition behind. SUNDAY PRESS

It has a hero who smacks of early Beckett EVENING HERALD

It is obvious that Philip Davison could make any place or circumstance or character that took his fancy equally compelling. He has a sparse and strangely matter-of-fact style of writing that gives full value to every word and act. THE IRISH TIMES


Download a free copy of The Book Thief’s Heartbeat at Irish Literary Revival. This is available under a Creative Commons Licence.

 
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