Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Michael Dibdin RIP

Sad to hear of the death of one of my favourite authors, novelist Michael Dibdin - he died on March 30th, but I only found out this weekend. The obituaries were in the midweek papers last week (including a comprehensive one in the Daily Telegraph and slightly shorter ones in the Guardian and Independent), but my local newsagent has been shut for the last couple of weeks, so my newspaper-buying has been a bit erratic of late. Thankfully it's open again now, though.

The obituaries all say that he died after a "short illness", which is usually obituary-ese for a heart attack (a "long illness" usually meaning cancer, by contrast).

He's most famous for the Italian-set Aurelio Zen series of detective novels, the last of which, Back To Bologna, I read just recently. Apparently there is one more in the pipeline which he completed before he died. I recommend the whole series, as well as the non-Zen novels Dirty Tricks and Dark Spectre, unreservedly.


Anonymous said...

Kurt Vonnegut is dead as well. But you might not have liked him. And he is American. I'm sure you must have read at least ONE of his books, non? Oui?
Et excuse-moi, je ne t'ai pas répondu à un message que tu m'as laissé sur ton blog en septembre 2006, tout joliment écrit en français, pour te dire que je suis désolée pour les vieux chats, et très contente pour les nouveaux chats, et je pense qu'il est temps de penser à tes draps: soit tu les laves, soit tu les jettes, et tu t'en achètes de nouveaux.. Peut-être avec des jolis motifs dessus (des images de Michael Dibdin par exemple).

electrichalibut said...

You're right, he does appear to have died. I never quite got the hang of Vonnegut, despite reading a few of his books - the obligatory Slaughterhouse 5, as well as Breakfast Of Champions and, erm, Galapagos, I think. Our mutual friend Mario (remember him?) was a BIG Vonnegut fan, though. He'll be gutted. And probably profiting, whatever the heck that was all about.

And as for the sheet issue, maybe draps en plastique are the answer, non? But only 'cos I can't remember the French for rubber.

electrichalibut said...

Just to expand ever so slightly - I think I found the structural experimentalism and constant self-referentiality (including occasionally popping up as a character in his own books - in Breakfast Of Champions in particular) made it difficult to engage with what was going on. I found myself constantly mildly entertained by the writing, but waiting for the story to start, only to get to the end of the book and discover it never quite had. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the big John Irving-style sagas. A Prayer For Owen Meany is still shit, though.

Anonymous said...

If Mario is still profiting, then he is doing particularly well I reckon.

I actually don't really remember the source of all the ridiculousness about Mario profiting, which is a bit sad, but I'll get over it.

But I remember an infested sofa in the "tv room" which Mario slept on, non?

Memories also come flooding back of Doug burning Johnny's dressing gown in the back garden with insecticide, inhaling the fumes and hence burning his oesophagus and going to see a doctor who scorned his student antics.

I also remember a five-pound bet for Doug to drink some mouldy ten year old gone off cider (or beer or sumfink), and he did it (because he was broke and because he is stoopid) and then vomited it up all over his bedroom floor. All for a fiver: hey, those were the days.

The Black Rabbit said...

ACTUALLY you'll find that Doug vomited in a very controlled fashion in the lavatory bowl after drinking the off zoider. And it was a deliberate chunder, to avoid complicatia.

And Doug may be stoopid, but he's not clever...

electrichalibut said...

I can't remember exactly what Doug was drinking, bitter of some sort I think. I do remember dissolving paracetamol tablets in Ruddles Best Bitter in a desperate attempt to get pissed, after (for reasons I can't begin to imagine) choosing to go and see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the cinema instead of going to the pub like normal people.

Incidentally there is a new TMNT film out at the moment. Well, it can't be any worse than the original one.

The Black Rabbit said...

Can I recommend a book?

"Miffy goes flying" by Dick Bruna.

It most surely is a wonderful piece of classical literature set in a post-modern, utopian, leporidal society.
One could spend weeks losing oneself in the veritable plethora of "Southern Gothic" substrata contained within its delicately illustrated pages.
Bruna has reached the dizzy zenith of global literal prowess with this epic tale of romance and blind, furious adventure.


Its about a rabbit.
Called Miffy.
Who goes flying.
In a little plane.
He has adventures.

Anonymous said...

Michael Dibdin's Zen has been an absolute favorite of mine. I know why- Zen might as well be me. Dibdin's voice through Zen will be greatly missed.