Absolute Zero Cool
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Absolute Zero Cool

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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Winner of the Crimefest 2012 Goldsboro Last Laugh Award Billy Karlsson needs to get real. Literally. A hospital porter with a sideline in euthanasia, Billy is a character trapped in the purgatory of an abandoned novel. Deranged by logic, driven beyond sanity, Billy makes his final stand: if killing old people won't cut the mustard, the whole hospital will have to go up in...more
ebook, 142 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Liberties Press
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Bill Kirton
In a previous review (of a Paul Auster novel), I wrote ‘Writing fiction about writing and writers is a precarious endeavour; making one of your characters yourself – giving him your name, location and profession – is provocative’. And the review went on to list the reasons why I won’t be reading any more of his work. So it’s strange that I found Absolute Zero Cool so compelling because it, too, features the writer himself, the work in progress (which is the novel we’re reading), one of its chara...more
John Gaynard
Here is the beginning of the review for this book on my blog:


Apart from the fact that it is a challenging, pleasing, provocative, wise-cracking read, there are at least three more reasons Declan Burke's most recent novel, Absolute Zero Cool, should be made obligatory reading for every innocent young student wishing to dedicate his or her life to any form of art, and who takes on the loan necessary to enroll in an institute of higher education, whether it be for acting, painting, sculpting or "cr...more
Marleen
Wow! I know I’ve said it before, but this is most definitely a book unlike any I’ve read in the past. I’m not even sure if I will be able to describe the plot in a way that makes sense to those who haven’t read the book, but I will try.

An author, on a retreat to finish a book he is working on finds himself confronted by Billy Karlsson, a character from a previous, unfinished novel. In that story Billy is a hospital porter who occasionally helps people who wish to die, but finds himself in troubl...more
Malcolm Berry
Now we are definitely moving into Gonzo-lit, where fictional characters threaten to blow up hospitals, authors happily bemoan their own calamities and successes with publishing within the fictive universe they have created, and nothing is as it seems. Or everything is as it seems, upside-down and ass-backwards, filtered through reverse mirrors and a sort of Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern pudding of terror and delight.

The simple fact is, there is so much room for the expansion of literature into ne...more
Seana
This book has been recently shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards. I'd thought to write a separate piece here, but since I haven't I will just copy and paste my review from my blog:

Having read two of his other books, I can attest that Mr. Burke is quite capable of writing a really good book in the more conventional forms, but that is not what he is setting out to do here. The conceit is that the character "Declan Burke" is visited, while on a writer's retreat, by a character who was thought up f...more
Colette Ni
I think he is one of the best Ireland has on offer right now. The man is so good it's hard to imagine how he can get better. Burke writes and reviews crime but this is a whole meal of a read and the tasty bites one savours leave a distinct 'wow! That's really absolute cool!' impression on the mind. A stop to pause and read back to fully explore what the man has just said. In a 'fan' mail I told him he was Jon Banville in reverse: Banville is an accalimed writer of cerebral fiction who writes his...more
Corey
One of the funniest and freshest novels I've read in a while. I cannot remember a book I copied more lines from. And it's not just aphoristic. There's a bang-up plot happening, too. I'd never heard of Burke before but now I'll go back and read the other novels.
Paul Brazill
Billy Karlsson is a disgruntled hospital porter; an urban Raskolinikov; an existentialist powder keg waiting to explode. An angry young man who has hatched a plan to blow up a hospital in order to vent his revenge on the world. But there are one or two obsticles in his way, the biggest being that he isn’t real. Karlsson is, in fact, a charcter in a long-shelved, unfinished, black novel by writer Declan Burke.

And Burke really has no plans to resurrect that novel or the character of Billy Karlsson...more
Rob Kitchin
On the jacket cover, John Banville states that Absolute Zero Cool is a cross between Flann O’Brien and Raymond Chandler. I think it’s more a cross between Flann O’Brien (the Irish satirist) and Declan Burke, author of Eight Ball Boogie, The Big O and Crime Always Pays – satire and high art meets screwball noir. The nearest comparison for the existential, literary plot-play I can think of is Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes novels. Whereas Fforde plays with literary theory and int...more
Elizabeth A.
While at an artists’ retreat, our unnamed narrator, an author (is he or isn’t he Declan himself?), is visited by a man calling himself Billy Karlsson, which just happens to be the name of a character in one of the manuscripts the author has long since set aside. And while it’s all well and good that the author has moved on to a successful career writing comedic crime novels, Billy complains that he’s been stuck in limbo the past five years and would like very much to move the show along toward b...more
Kwoomac
First off, the author of the book is Declan Burke. His main character is Declan Burke, a writer, whose body of work is the same as the author's. Another character is Karlsson, a character in a novel written by character Declan Burke. Karlsson is also a writer and has written a book within the book by character Declan Burke. Karlsson shows up one day to Burke who is at a writer's retreat struggling with the final draft of a crime novel he's writing. Karlsson has reinvented himself as Billy, newly...more
Charmaine Clancy
A very clever book that definitely allows the story to grow outside the normal constraints.
Andrew Darling
First things first – this is a very fine piece of work indeed.
It is a novel about a man writing a novel about a man writing a novel.
It's also about Ireland and the EU, about bankers shafting us while
they pile up their bonuses, and about chatrooms and hospitals. John
Banville said it was a cross between Flann O’Brien and Raymond
Chandler, which is about right; there’s also an echo of Lawrence
Durrell, who pulled the same kind of trick about the relationship
between a writer and his creation in the A...more
Michael
My initial review is as follows:

"I've read a lot about Declan Burke's being part of the vanguard of new Irish crime fiction. Perhaps that's true, but this didn't really do it for me.

Very clever, very stylish, but ultimately left me cold."

The author promptly left a very warm and funny comment, which caused a great sense of guilt at firing off a late-night, somewhat glib review. So here are some more thoughts.

The writing is really top-notch. There are three main points-of-view, and I could tell w...more
Ctgt
This book is going to be very difficult for me to review. I wouldn't call it a crime novel in the usual sense, even though that's how it is categorized. There is quite a bit of humor and I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions. So, humor title? Not really. Mystery? Nope. Thriller? The pacing was nice, but not the traditional thriller breakneck speed. I guess it's in a category all it's own. I must say it's one of the few books where I have actually used the kindle to highlight pass...more
Mat Sletten
Pretty good take on noir. Funny and quick. Sometimes the self awareness pushed me out of the story, but he's an author I'll certainly visit again.
Chuk
I liked some things about this book a lot, but it was a bit slow going for the first 80% or so. The prose is fine but there is a lot of what feels like literary wanking, even though it is kind of lampshaded. The end was good though. Can't really compare it to much else -- maybe King's The Dark Half? Some of the same themes, certainly. But King's book is more of a straightforward horror/thriller and I think his characters are better drawn.
Andy
post modern tale of author and one of his characters rewriting the character's story - a disenchanted hospital porter plans to blow up the hospital.
some deliberately provocative scenes in a style that had reminded me of Bukowski (and then he was name-checked)
well executed idea with some laughs
Lisa
Oct 21, 2012 Lisa added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
So far, this is one weird book!

I couldn't do it. I just couldn't finish. I'm not going to rate it because that wouldn't be fair to the author/book. I'm just going to say I did not get into it and decided not to torture myself any longer. Too many books, too little time.
Robin
I am torn between recommending this to everyone I know and burning all evidence I read or enjoyed it to avoid being considered a lunatic. Dark, disturbing, entertaining. My library classified it as a mystery. Not exactly. Just weird and great. I loved it.
Diana Febry
TBH still thinking about what I think. It certainly made me think. The two main characters are the author and a character of an unfinished manuscript who isn't happy and insists the novel is completed. (I will come back and complete review at some point).
Madeleine
A comment on the cover says it's a new take on noir...and it is. Not sure I was prepared for existentialism, nihilism, dark humor, and self deprecation via an author and hospital porter. Entertaining but not great literature.
Jon Steele
not satisfied with writing a user's manual for poor sods suffering from 'writer's block,' ABSOLUTE COOL ZERO is the best mind bending, weirdo-who dunnit (or who's going to do it) since phillip k dick's UBIK.
Kevin Mccarthy
brilliant, unconventional 'crime' novel. the prose is razor sharp, the dialogue darkly hilarious and the subject matter, profound. one of the best books I read in 2011.
Cp
Good book. My only problem was everything i read about it had it as crime fiction, but i found it more fiction less crime. still kept me interested.
Quentin
I liked this book so much that I'd almost be happy to marry it and live happily ever after.
Dsknott
Liked this book! Good twist on a crime story. Pretty funny and unexpected.
John Cain
Very witty and orginal, but more wordpay than anything else.
Jo Cantello
Not my thing, found it a bit too weird, didn't finish it
Edith
Jul 31, 2013 Edith marked it as leestip  ·  review of another edition
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Declan Burke is the author of four novels: Eightball Boogie and Slaughter's Hound, both featuring the private eye Harry Rigby; Absolute Zero Cool; and The Big O.

Crime Always Pays, a comedy crime caper, will be published by Severn House in 2014.

He is also the editor of Down These Green Streets, a collection of essays, interviews and short fictions about the rise of Irish crime writing.

With John C...more
More about Declan Burke...
Eight Ball Boogie The Big O Slaughter's Hound Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing In The 21st Century Crime Always Pays

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