Category Archives: Ken Bruen

I’d Rather Be In Croydon

By Ken Bruen

Someone close to me has been in hospital for the last 2 weeks and is in an open ward….private rooms are not so much expensive as just impossible to get

And ok………..they do cost

We have the trolley situation here, that means, if you can be admitted to a hospital, you’re on a trolley for 2 days , in a public corridor and lucky to have it

The new Ireland, just after we’d been declared the 2nd richest country after Japan, we treat our nurses and hospitals like total shite

Most days, I sit by her bed and am ……….just there, as she is heavily sedated and I dunno if she even knows I’m there

I know

So, I’m a writer, I do what writers do

I listen

Wish I didn’t

There is a woman across from us, aged 80……….I know, she told me

And she has had two strokes

She doesn’t know that

She tells me, as I hold her beautiful weathered, worked line hands

“Amac ( son), you have ferocious cold hands”

I say

Cold hands……………..

And let her finish

Her whole face lit up

“Warm heart.”

Every day, I try to bring her some small trivial item and she grabs my hand when I bring the Claddagh angel, says

“You’re a lovely man.”

I look at my friend opposite and wish she could have heard that

Better, probably, she didn’t…………..she’d have said, in the way only Irish women can

“And you’d have believed that?”

The woman, of the strokes?

She spent 50 years working in Croydon as a bar lady and said

“Tis a wicked place, I hated every moment of it.”

But she did it

Paid to put her family through college and she smiles, that Irish melancholy, not one trace of bitterness, adds

“They don’t talk to me now”

Now Croydon is a bad Detroit and if you live in Detroit, I mean no offence, it’s just a place where they chew you up and spit you out, the English version is worse, all cement and coldness and as I don’t expect to be doing a reading there anytime soon, that’s how it is

Her husband Larry…………I swear, on me child’s head is ninety, and looks like an Irish Clint Eastwood, all lined face, gravitas, and dignity and he is going deaf, so he has a hearing aid

He sits by her bed, I think, nine hours a day and holds her hand and she’s yapping away, he can’t hear much but looks at her as if he is hanging on her every single word

Now fuckit…………….that is love

What do I know about it?

Indeed……….when you’ve lost your marriage, you’re hardly the expert on the topic

I do know when I see such care, warmth and affection, I’m seeing something  rare, I look at them, with ok, yearning and

They kill me

I’m downstairs in the coffeeshop, grabbing some respite when Larry comes along, sees me and adjusting his hearing aid, asks if he might have the honor to join me?

Aw fook


I say of course and go and get him a cup of tea…………..I just know he’d never have drank coffee his whole life and I add a slice of Danish

He looks at it when I put it down and reaches for his wallet

I say, not shouting , but clearly

“My treat.”

He nods

Tries the tea and I know he thinks it’s shite, a weak tea bag and piss poor water……….he says

“Isn’t this grand”

No irony

He really means it

He has the most amazing blue eyes I ever saw, full of knowledge, and deep, deep sorrow.

He’s wearing an impeccably white shirt, not a speck on it, a carefully knotted tie, blue blazer, a little the worse for wear, and grey pants with a crease you could shave yer own

self with

I’m wearing a t-shirt with the logo Head Games

And me faded blue jeans

Guess how I feel?

He says, adjusting his hearing aid to max

“You were very kind to Mairead”.

I mutter she is easy to be………..kind to

He tries the Danish, his false teeth having trouble with all the sugar, say’s

“She thinks she is going back to Croydon.”

And I say nothing…………..not one word

He adds

“She hated the feckin place.”

After my friend is released from hospital, I buy a large bunch of flowers, go to see Mairead and her bed is vacant, I ask the nurse where they moved her, she says, her whole body screaming

knackered !

from too many shifts and without any malice or bitterness, just the facts, the words

“Oh she died.”

She is too tired to be nice

Moves on

I stand there

The flowers in me dead hand

Tom Russell’s rendition of Bukowski’s Crucifix in a Dead Hand unreeling like a slow snake in me mind

I remember when Craig Mc first introduced me to TR………..and how blown away I was by him…………without music, there is no heart, only the void

Think of Mairead, think of that smile when she saw the tiny angel

Thank god she’s not in Croydon

I give the flowers to another nurse who says

“I have a boyfriend.”


Let’s hope he has half the stuff of Larry

I get outside of the hospital and it’s pissing down, like teeming, I have me hat but you know, for one moment, I  just stand there, the rain lashing down and I’m not going to go deep…………..say………gee…….it was cleansing or I felt I knew the answer

Mainly I was thinking

Now and again, you get the chance to meet people like them………….is it a blessing or a curse?

Base a whole doctorate on that.

A man passing says

“You’re getting fucking drenched there”

I give him the look, say

“What’s it to you?”

Wonderful man……………right, I’m so relieved that Mairead never got to know me, the temper, the insecurity, the depression…….yada yada………..who I really am…………. she saw a simple surface , I’m so glad she never knew I was a writer and all that entails …………… Maybe I’ll move to Detroit

And yes, me hands are cold

Seems fitting


Ghosts and Other Friends

By Ken Bruen

If you’re Irish, you grow up with all kinds of superstitions, ghosts, bogie men and of course………..the inevitable banshee

First off, I want to congratulate Alex for her wondrous nom………The Harrowing is one of the finest supernatural thrillers I’ve ever read, equaled only by Sara Gran’s Move Closer…….

And the hugely ignored chiller, Anne Siddon’s The House Next Door

Do I believe in Ghosts and all that……… stuff?

When my mother was dying, , minutes before she passed, she grabbed my hand and said

“Can you smell the roses?”

OK, I’m as suggestive as anyone but I swear to God, excuse the pun, the whole room was infused with the aroma of roses

On her first anniversary, we had the mass, I was coming out of the church, keeping me mind blank which is how I muddle through most emotion and stopped to dip me hand in the Holy water font and I tell you, floating in it there, was one perfect red rose


I dunno about the USA but here they say, if a feather floats into your path, your Guardian Angel is at hand

You can imagine my response to that


Recently, some hard times were coming down the pike and I was spitting iron, means enraged in Ireland, and glad I wasn’t driving, as me car was in  for the tune up. I’d come out of a coffee shop, the rain was about to come down, and turning up me collar, a single pure white feather came floating by, landed right by my foot

An elderly woman, standing behind me, muttered

“Sweet Jesus, did you ever see such a feather?”

I picked it up and it was indeed quite remarkable, I handed it to her and she shuddered,


“But it’s for you.”

I said

“So, now it’s for you.”

She was still staring at it when I looked back

Now it’s move it up a notch time

As we say here, make of it what you will and simply put it down to……………….fook, how much Jameson are you guys putting away ……………..or

Two stories

Short………..of course

I mentioned in another blog how my best friend killed himself, it’s five years ago now and I think I finally forgive him………………yeah, I know, how decent of me, but I was fookin angry, I’d been with him the night before and never saw him in better form, my books were just beginning to take off after years in the wilderness and no one, no one was happier than him. His big passion, indeed his only passion was Harleys…………and our shared joke was…………if I ever won one award………..he’d buy me a Harley


The chances seemed as outlandish as that

Then …….well, the phone call came the next day and I thought

“Fook you and your Harley.”

Fast track, against all the odds, The Guards won The Shamus in Toronto, Reed Coleman said he never saw anyone happier in their whole life

Well, I’d lost the Edgar, The Macavity, The Barry, you get the picture and yes I do know, I was delighted to be nominated but even my editor was dreading sitting beside me as he whispered

“Here we go again, one more loss”

When I got home to Galway, outside my door was a tiny, made of wire, Harley Davidson

Probably a friend……………right

The 2nd story is less, how will I put it………..colorful

When I was starting out as a teacher, I lived in Greece for nigh on 2 years, and used to spend all me weekends on Santorini, sit on the balcony, sip some Ouzo, dream of being a writer, I had a wondrous lady in my life then, the mother of my late daughter and I loved her to bits, I was twenty, thought I knew it all, god forgive me, I wanted to be a poet, blame the Ouzo and the Greek weather

Every morning, I’d be up at the crack, do a run along the cliffs of Santorini, fit and lean as …………… a Galway hound who never heard of Frances Thompson

A greyhound and with the same mad energy


There’d she’d be…………this tiny girl,

Staring out at that stunning seascape and after months of passing her, just nodding and



She never answered, seem entranced by the sea, I related to that.

Once, she looked at me, briefly, turned back to the sea

She had those

Greek brown eyes, all sorrow and wailing, beautiful long brown hair to her waist and she might have been all of five years old

She never answered me

Not once


My last morning on Santorini, my last morning really in Greece as I had this amazing job waiting in South America, awaiting in an envelope in Athens in our apartment, I said my usual Kalimera

And she answered me.


In Greek,

“This is your home, don’t leave”

And added

“Ti krema”…………………….ie…………

“What a terrible pity”

I bent down to tie me shoe lace and she was gone

Out of curiosity, I asked the locals I knew who she might be and they all gave me strange looks, there was no such girl, and certainly never would be out alone at that hour

After South America, and other………………stuff, I was in the British Museum, you’re thinking………………just the place for a Mick……………..and looking up angels for a piece on the doctorate I was planning…………….hold the phones………….trick of the light……………………too much rage in me life, too much cynicism…………..but there she was…………….The little Archangel ……………..yeah, you guessed it……………of



What do you do

I went for a pint

The British Museum………………the fook do they know?


It’s My Party

By Ken Bruen

It’s my party


I’ll cry

If I want to

God, I wish I didn’t remember that damn song

Louise did a post recently that moved me in ways I never will admit

Broke me heart in bits

And then some

Why that damn song is stuck in me head


My daughter Grace, nigh 15 soon and with Down Syndrome, is just about the coolest young lady I know, and yeah, with a mouth on her, she writes a diary every day, not for what happened, no ………….. she writes  the events in the morning and then shapes the day to fit them

e.g. ……………. DAD brought me to McDonald’s, got me a ton of good stuff and was really nice to me and he wasn’t sad for one single minute

She shows me the diary before we go out ……………. so am I gonna screw with that?

While I was away, she was shopping with her Mum and they come out ………. a TV crew is there and the guy goes ………….. are you Ken Bruen’s daughter?

She rolls her eyes and says maybe?


Jesus on a bike

So he goes, in a very condescending tone, he’s talking to a handicapped child

And very slowly

“Would …………….. you like ……………. to be ………….. on TV?”

She goes

As she gets in the car

“Call my agent.”

I love it

And I ask her

“Am ………… you have an agent?”

She checks her burger for mayo, then looks at me, this tiny wee thing, says

“Dad, I’m going to be a hairdresser, like ……………. I need an agent?”

Silly fook that I am ………….. I persist, go

“Hon, wouldn’t you like to be famous?”

And she slams down the burger, just like her Mum would, sighs, says

“And be happy like you dad?’

I’m batting zero out of ……….. zero, try

“I’m not famous, I just write books and am ………………”

Trail off

She goes, dipping a fry in her curry sauce,

“Mum said you were nicer when you were just a teacher”

Crushed, I’ll admit, I push

“What do you think hon?”

And she says

“I love you anyway, do you think I should have the ice cream?”

I think
            I think
                           And Snow Patrol come on the speakers

Chasing cars

I adore that song, wish I could loosen up to that extent

And Grace smiles


“You love that song”

I agree

No argument

And she licks her ice cream, says

“Cos it’s sad ……………… RIGHT DAD?”

When we’re leaving, she takes my hand, asks

“When is your next trip?”

I go

“Aw, not for a while.”

She gives that Irish smile that Irish women are damn born with, says

“So …………….. soon?”

When I’m back home, me heart is fooked

And I’m muttering

        Would write you                     
                    what I hope
                                might read
                                                me eyes
Sight warmth

I know she’d go

“Whatever ……………… yada yada”

Let me go learned a bit here, a bit of am ……. well, ok, pseudo …….

Above me desk are 2 quotes

One is by Somerset Maugham and it scares the living daylights out of me

“To have the compulsion to write and no talent”

The 2nd

Very classical

From Aeschylus

Spell it, I can hardly pronounce it


It goes

Pain that cannot forget

Falls drop by drop upon the heart

Until in our despair

There comes wisdom

Through the awful

Grace ………. of God

Sing that


The Happy Post

By Ken Bruen


I did promise a happy post and by god, this is it ……….. so get ready

I’ve just returned from LA ………… great line that ….. as if I kinda hopped over there every week

I know you believe that

Long flight, eleven hours and change and that’s from Dublin, I’d already flown from Galway in the wee hours but ………. ok, this is a happy post and there will be no bad vibes

Finally get through all the security and immigration, take me seat and the woman sitting next to me, gives me the look

“Uh oh”

She goes

“I asked for the aisle seat”

She’s in the window, as if you haven’t guessed, and I offer her my seat, the obviously coveted aisle job and she goes

“And have you resenting me for 11 hours ………… no thank you Mister.”

We didn’t talk a whole lot after that save when they didn’t bring her Vegetarian meal and I wisely keep me mouth shut, let the airline deal with it

The devil is in me to tell her……….it’s AIRLINE FOOD……….it all tastes the same, and when people tell me they reserved their special meal three months before, I’m going to fess up and say

“Jesus wept”

I watch Zodiac purely for Robert Downey Jnr………..God, what a talent

Here’s the really happy bit………..we get to LAX………….my veggie friend doesn’t say goodbye or such but you know, fookit

A limo waiting……………is there a writer on God’s earth doesn’t want to arrive in LA and have a stretch limo waiting…………….just once

I’m both delighted and mortified, I ask the driver if I can sit up front and he gives me the look

The back it is

I try to sneak in, I know it’s LA……like anyone gives a toss

I’m staying in Beverly Hills and yes, for me……….add Hillbilly

Huge room with a balcony

I’m but a bad book review from Rodeo Drive

First night, I go to a party in Laurel Canyon and no shite but everybody is




Nobody is a mere book writer

And everybody is gorgeous……….honest to God, I dunno if it’s all NIP AND TUCK or

whatever but Jesus, it worked

A stunning young girl tells me

“I just like, love your accent.”

See, looks aren’t everything

Next day

I meet with Brad, the producer for Blitz. I’ve waited a lot of years to use that sentence.

We have lunch outside on Sunset Boulevard and my jaw drops every few minutes as some star strolls by. I have shades on…….see, I’d gone Hollywood in 24 hours and  speaking of……..Keifer stops by as Brad cast him in Freeway, I’m introduced and cool, I say

“Good to see you.”

Fook, did I really say that


Brad produced Monster and I’ve a million things to ask about that but I pick up the menu, ask

“What’s good here?”

I so badly want to name drop others who stopped by but how awful would that be

Skip to the chase and the show, we tape at 4.30 and it’s all done and wrapped in jig time,

I can’t get me head around the fact I’m wearing a tie

I did remove the shades


In the car, am……….limo…….after, I try to recall a single word I said and all I can remember is Craig Ferguson giving me a hug

Saturday, we hit the bookshops and the Independents as usual are just so welcoming and friendly

I’m signing books and realize, I love this, this is the icing on the cake

Sunday, drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and for once, I’m lost for words, I briefly wonder what it would be like to live here, would I produce work full of sunshine and light

I doubt it

But the wind and the rain and the dark, it’s what I know, it never once occurred to me to ask

“Do you like it?”

It’s my terrain

All too soon, I’m back on a plane, aisle seat of course and guess what’s showing


I watch the completely hilarious Will Ferrell’s “Blades of Glory

I’m laughing out loud and this might be the nearest to happy I get

I’m not complaining

Back in Dublin, you guessed it, it’s raining and cold and what the hell, I slip my shades on, live the dream another little while



By Ken Bruen

One of my favourite photos …….. a long shot.

The tide is out on Grattan beach, a long way out.  The sun is bouncing off the barely visible sea. You can see two stick figures, clearly dancing

Like Zorba

The figures appear equidistant from the water and the photographer. My wife took that snap

We were happy then

Grace and I danced on the beach like seals. My daughter was six then and I can hear her laughter still

One of my perennial books is Hemingway’s, A Movable Feast

The Paris days

He writes how happy he and Mary were and he wrote, there was wood all around them and he never knocked on it, for luck

I’m sure there was lots of driftwood on the beach that day but it never occurred to me to touch it, my other daughter, gone 2 years now, and she wasn’t in the photo, she is always in me heart

I have a magnificent shot of my close friend, a poet, perched on a Harley Davidson in The Grand Canyon. He looks free, as if the good times were hovering all around him

Before the poems darkened and  before the funerals.

Before he took his life and it took me so long to forgive him, god forgive me for being angry so long

Another photo of Grace and I, looks like we’re wearing identical sweatshirts and it seems almost sepia in tone, we’re staring off to the right, in wonderment, as if something magical was at hand

Most of my friends remark on the spirituality of the picture and ask what on earth we were watching

Sesame Street

I have a photo of my Dad when he was in his thirties, it hangs above my desk, he looks nothing like me and I don’t know now how I feel about that.  His suit is circa George Raft and he had the mandatory cigarette of the times, his hair is black and shiny and what I love most is the expression in his eyes, reads
                            “Take your best shot.

When I visit his grave, and realize yet again that he is truly gone, I whisper

“You were able for the best."

He was

That Noel, my beloved brother, and my mother lie each side of him is mixed comfort.

And 2 months ago, I added me only gorgeous beloved sister to the plot, fookit, I could weep but us Irish guys, shite, we don’t weep, we talk about hurling and women we had………..

Jesus wept

Photos, all I know of heaven and hell

Somedays, I derive scant comfort therein and others, I can’t look at them at all

I carry a photo in my wallet that I never…………….ever look at, it’s there, I know but I’m adept at using my wallet frequently without ever seeing it. She is smiling in the picture and I must have been too though I forget now but I know she has an expression of such longing, such………..yearning in her eyes and I still wonder for what?

Now of course, I’ll never know

I should have asked

You think?

In my files the other day, a snap fell out of an old notebook, in the days when I thought I might be a poet, god bless my ignorance, and it shows me on top of the Twin Towers, dressed in my security uniform. I had a job minding the North tower, I was Nineteen and could barely mind myself and they thought I could mind The Towers. I don’t recognize that person, I know it’s me but it’s not anyone I know, not any more. That person has a face full of such hope and anticipation, and almost, happiness.

God in heaven, if only that poor soul had any notion  what was coming down the pike, he might

Well………… have jumped……………….. sometimes I wish he did……………..

jump that is

When my beloved brother Noel died, a vagrant alcoholic in The Australian Outback, we received his body home in a sealed casket

The night before the funeral mass, as the coffin lay in the church, I placed a large framed photo of Noel on the coffin, when he was in his prime, his smiling face fills the whole space

A week after the funeral, I ran into a friend of mine who asked

“Why did you use two photos of Noel?"


“On the Sunday, we thought it was great that your dad was standing behind Noel in the photo and then on Monday, at the mass, it was just Noel alone.”

I swore it was the one picture, I hadn’t touched it or used any other. He gave me an odd look and moved on

My Dad, in one of those awful ironies, had died a little over four weeks before Noel

Photos never lie

Do they?

The photo of my late sister, shows me giving her her first  puppy ………… Jaysus, I’m sounding like freaking Bobby Goldsboro and how the feck old am I if I remember


She has the most radiant smile you ever saw………………..

Her name was Jess and she was truly, one of the sweetest girls but life, life was too much for her

By an odd twist of  fate, I Heard Janis Ian recently………..singing, Jesse, come home……….maybe she’s home now

I had pledged to write a happy post this time and trust me, soon as I get it, happy, you’ll get the post

Only a few days ago, my late daughter’s husband sent me a photo of Aine on her wedding day

Am I going to look at that

Am I fook


All the Sad Songs


By Ken Bruen

Everyone has a sad story

How the world goes round

I’m not claiming this is the saddest one but it is the one I just heard

Two days ago, when I was not at me most convivial

I love that word…………….convivial

And maybe one day, I’ll learn to spell it

I was sitting in me favorite café, looks out on the water and I was doing what I do best


For what…………….who knows

Since me marriage broke up, I’m more than ever inclined to the razor blade music, the

sadder the song, the happier I am

I was listening to me MP3……………sent to me by Craig Mc Donald (Art in the Blood,

Head games, Rogue Males)

And hit on Lorena Mc Kenna……………..Raglan Road…………..God, what a song

And worse, a great friend of mine, Gretchen Peters, lives in Nashville (not far from the gorgeous Tasha Alexander), has written the ultimate end of relationship


Jesus wept, when you both know it’s over and yet………cos you like have history and

she sings,  like every awful moment you’ve ever had when you tried like fook to save it

and couldn’t

Barry Walsh plays the most beautiful back up bass  you’ve ever heard and best of all,

Gretchen has found real love again and I’m……………ok………….screw it, I’m jealous

I was telling a female friend about this and she was stunned, went

“Guys think like that?”

Shite, I dunno, I only know that’s what I felt and she goes

“But you’re that hard arse, the hardboiled guy”

I apologized, said…………I’d lost the run of meself but hey, not to worry, I’d be fooking

granite tomorrow

Thing is, I had lost the run of meself and had met someone……………..and horrors, she

dumped me, in like jig time, cos I hadn’t been the person she’d read about

Then I’m sipping me expresso……………yeah, dark, bitter and a guy comes up, goes

Talk to you a minute?


He goes

“You know Cathleen?"


Known her most of me battered life

A good girl, in the Irish sense, she’d lend you a few quid if you were stuck and

never………….and I mean……………never………expect it back

She was the one who knew, she heard me little girl had Down Syndrome, said

“Life is a hoor.”

So, I regard her as …….family

He goes

“I left her, met me a 20 year old student.”

I’m thinking

“Where’s me fooking hurly when I need it?”

And he goes

“Cathleen didn’t turn me on any more.”

I’m fookin outraged, spittin iron

I look at him, forty-five, balding, a pot belly, a weak mouth and real bad eyes and

GOD FORBID……………….GOD FOOKIN FORBID…………..he isn’t turned on

I’m so angry, I could spit

He asks

“So, cara, what do you think?”

I take nine deep breaths, let it slow, like bad poetry  and say

“I think……………..I think you should get a long rope……………”

And then I stop………..Jesus on a bike, what do I know………….I get up, brush past him and go and feed the swans, me blood biling

I think

“I have Steve Mosby’s book, Jerry Rodriguez’s book, and Nick Stone’s brilliant sequel

waiting at home for me, not to even mention emails from Sandra, Craig, Duane,  Laura L.

The Rabbi, Jason………..and The Big O………, like, how am I hurting?

And Ruth Jordan sent me a lovely email yesterday…………, what’s the matter with me, as Charlie Stella would say

There’s a hooded guy sitting on a bench, maybe 18, coming off a glue or speed jag and

his radio is playing, Shane Mc Gowan and Moira Brennan, with

“You’re the one”

Killer song

Killing him and me…………..I’m kinda used to sad songs

I move away and a local from the Claddagh asks, rather shouts

“The fook happened to your hair?”

I want to say


But jaysus, that’s a bit too deep, even for Galway

Dead Vikings

By Ken Bruen

I was recently on a TV chat show……………whoa, hold the phones, I rarely get on

television but a guest let them down, well, ok, three did and final resort, Bruen

Fly me up to Dublin, nice hotel and you know, made a nice change from agonizing over

the computer

I get up there, it’s raining…….but no never no mind, there’s a car waiting and you’re

telling yerself

“Don’t get used to this?”

I wont

Not ever

The driver is a lovely man, asks what is my reason for getting on the show and I go

“I’m a writer.”

He’s kind of interested, not a lot but is, as I said, a nice guy and he goes

“The wife reads.”

I honest to god, dunno should I say

God bless her



The ultimate male bonding

“What the fuck are Chelsea playing at?”

Chelsea works best

I think he might have actually warmed to me………a bit anyway

Jesus, you’re trying to make the driver happy, how sad is me fookin life?

We get to the studio and I palm him a few notes, cos you do and he goes

“You don’t have to do that.”

We both know I do and then he asks

“What’s yer name?”

I tell him, he goes as he burns rubber outa there

“Never heard of yah’”

I’m hoping……………maybe the wife, she reads……………so………….

Security is massive as the elections are soon and finally I get the coveted name badge,

with me name spelt……..kev brien

But I’m in

Ushered to the Green Room and there is an air of hushed silence……………not me,

fook, I wish but an Irish rock star is returning to the scene and she is brought in,

surrounded by………….I’m never sure of the term





She is now in her mid 30’s and god Forgive me, looking it, all that pampered

shite……….has its price

And I watch in astonishment, as no matter what she wants, a gang rush to get it and

mainly, she’s bored

She finally is due to go on air and turns to me, asks, like she gave a continental

“Who are you?”

I say

“I’m a writer”

Note to self, stop telling the truth, say you manage a sheep farm

“Have I heard of you?”


I say me name

And she goes to makeup, says

“Never heard of you.”



But I do know a driver she’d like

Makeup tell me

“Mmm, not a whole lot we can do for you, “

Jesus, I’m having me one hell of an ego boost

Me time on actual T.V. IS ALL OF FIVE MINUTES

ALL you need to know is, I was asked when my 2nd book might appear

Hollywood came to Galway when I was 17, back then, me whole life depended on 1,

getting to study at Trinty, 2,  Praying to Christ that Frances the hot girl, might notice me

She didn’t

I got to play a dead Viking for three months, read a lot of books and the movie,

ALFRED THE GREAT has been called one  of the greatest turkeys of all time

Not me fault, I played dead the best I could

And you know, in one way or another, I’ve been playing that damn Viking ever since

Method I think they call it

Sad might be another term but that’s too close to self pity and we do all sorts of crap, but

self pity……………………………………never……………


By Ken Bruen

As a child, I was guilty of the worst crime in the Irish calendar, I was quiet.

In fact, I never spoke and those who know me now, wonder if maybe, I wasn’t

a better gig then.

Moving on

Sitting beside me was a lad named Gerry, full of vim and vigour and as they

say, even then

most likely to succeed

Right behind us was a lad named Sean, from the poorest area of the town

and to be poor then, meant watching for the rent man on a Friday night and

alerting your mother to turn off the lights so he might believe you were out

As if there was anyplace to go

And lights out didn’t convince the rent man of anything, save you hadn’t

paid the light bill

Fast forward

Gerry, two years ago, hadn’t quite become the success they’d planned and

the circus was in town and,

a few pints to the worst, he went down at 4 in the morning to pet the tigers,

as he felt they might be lonely

They took both his arms off

It was indeed, dare I say, Tabloid fodder

He was front page for all of a day

Got over thirty large in compensation

With the help of new friends, he blew the money in five weeks

I ran into him last year when my French translators were in town

See, see the casual way I inserted that, like I have whole realm of translators

and last year, it was the turn of The French.

I was in the bathroom and Gerry came in, asked me to am…………….help him

to relieve himself, he had refused any artificial limbs, telling me

“Them yokes never fecking work.”

I’m thus engaged, when the translator walks in and not only am

I……….manhandling……….but with a person who is obviously physically


My dark rep in France was………………….SOLID

Gerry asks me to light him and I put a cigarette between his lips, fire him up

and he goes

“How are them books doing for you?”

And my heart is scalded, torn in a thousand ribbons, and I know the sheer

decency he was raised in, I say

“Doing ok now, thanks."

And armless, he moves off, ensconced in a cloud of nicotine, says

“You were always a hoor for them books.”

I met Sean last week, he has just been named as the third richest man in


ahead of Bono and trust me, that is serious bucks or Euros or

whatever you measure in

and he is just about the coldest person I’ve met in many an era

and believe me, I’ve met some cold ones,

most of them I’m related to, more’s the Irishe-d pity, mainly through

alcohol and

he says

“I don’t read fiction.”

Right off the bat, like I’d asked him

“Do you read fiction?”

Subtext here………………….do you read me?

None of that false bonhomie,

“Gee, haven’t seen you in twenty years, how the devil are you?’

No wonder he’s rich

Reminded me of the old adage, if you want to know what god thinks of

money, look who

he gave it to……………………Madonna?

I muttered something along the lines of

“Hasn’t Ireland changed so much?”

Piss poor, you think I don’t know?

And then the moment, he gives me the full on eye fuck, says

“But I’ve read your most recent offering.”

Don’t you love him?

I wait cos waiting is what, not so much what I’m best at, but I’m most

accustomed to and

he’s used to making pronouncements and then, he adds

“You need to write a bestseller.”

Got it

Memo to self

Wake up, say yer prayers, have a shower,

ring your child before she goes to school and

am………………write bestseller

I have it

When I was young, the old people, they’d see some poor afflicted soul,

they’d bless themselves, utter

“There but for the grace of god…………………”

I think about that and guess what, when I utter that, who do you think I see

as the afflicted soul?

Hint……………when I had to go to hospital

after I got me jaw broken at a book launch,

who came to see me, said

“I’d have brought a book but I couldn’t carry it.”

Good Will Hunting

From Ken

The Irish version of Goodwill consists of

Age concern
Cancer Help
St Vincent de Paul
Rehabilitation care

Though Oxfam have fallen a little out of favour since they began chaining their coats and jackets

Nothing shows the difference in Irish society like this, we used to be the ones queuing…..sorry, standing in line………..for hand’s out….and now we are the donators

To the extent that they leave the bags at your door, save you all the fuss and like, bother of having to actually deliver the stuff yer own self

God forbid

Cos, we’re busy, watching Desperate Housewives and O.C. and Hell, we cant miss American Idol

Lately though, the bags we left outside the door, have been disappearing and the charity bins, distributed in all parts of the city have been robbed


Eastern European gangs have been nabbing the goods, re-selling them in other countries

I had this scenario in my series a few years back and my editor wouldn’t buy it, same deal as when I had the swans attacked.

2 cops from Chicago came to visit me last week, they’d read the Galway books, met me at Love Is Murder and came over. To their horror, alI I’d written was even more true than they’d imagined and they said
“Goddamn tourist board must hate you”

They do
Tis true

I didn’t even have to point out the signs warning…………DON’T DRINK THE WATER
In Ireland?

I brought them to a traditional Irish music pub and we left after five songs by
Snow Patrol
Justin Timberlake……..currently on sell out tour here
And the final straw……………Madonna
One of the cops going………..I thought she’d become a Brit
Why we love her

We finally found an old pub, with no bouncers on the door but the signs for Coors light dampened their spirits and I assured them, hang on, the barman, was actually Irish, a true rarity nowadays and I had a word with him and not only did he take five minutes to draw their pints but when they got to the bottom of the glass, their names were spelled out in cream at the bottom

On a totally different note, let me say……….congratulations to Naomi, winning the Edgar is truly the biz, I’m delighted for her

Here is a sneaky thing I do, seeing as I’m outlining Galway life in all its goodwill, I go into the bookshops and presto, I see Robert Gregory’s book on the crime shelf, I move it to No 2 on the bestseller list…………….does that matter…………you betcha, five minutes later, it was sold

Tis sad tis true, people buy from the bestseller list and hey, you know, they got a hell of a book into the bargain

When the booksellers at the end of the day check their shelves and see Sandra Ruttan, Jason Starr, Dave Zeltserman, Cornelia Read, Megan Abbott lining the top ten, breathing down the rich necks of the Kellerman’s etc, they sigh. Go
“Bruen was in.”

It’s a small gesture and in terms of global sales, will it matter one wail of the banshee, probably not but for one glorious moment, I see these people be where they should be

And before you get upset, Duane, Al, Charlie, Donna, You were the top ten last week, time passes and I’m a team of one
David Corbett and Laura Lippman fought it out for No 1 for 2 Galway weeks

Is this morally right
Hello, I care?
I do care about friends and writers………
And Chicago cops

End note
Last night, I put out my bag for charity and stuck in some of me favourite writers and yup, the bag was gone in jig time this morning so if you suddenly find you are big in Eastern Europe, I’m not looking for charity or thanks, put it down to
Good will……………………………hunting


                             by Ken Bruen

                           Blurbs might well be the opiate of the writing classes. After all the torture of actually writing a book, finally getting all the vital items in place, i.e.


sympathetic editor/or not

publication date

along comes this hound of heaven, the blurb

I’ve been blessed, I never had to ask, my editor asked for suggestions and I had none so in total wish fulfillment mode, he sent the manuscript out to the big names and I got real lucky

Despite what all the various experts say, if you get a rave from one of the top five, you’re going to get noticed

Then comes the day you never expected, ever, you’re asked for a blurb . . . and you’re thinking, Jesus wept, I’ve arrived, someone, some publisher/agent/author thinks I have clout

Heady stuff

The very first blurb I did, I agonised over, read the book three times and did a mini essay on the book

The author wrote back

"If you didn’t like the book, why didn’t you just say so? . . . "

Then comes the time when your friends hint at a blurb . . . oh sweet hell, so what are you going to do now. . . . simple, read the book and say what you think

simple but deadly

and you just never know what’s going to come down the pike

Cases in point

I blurbed Cornelia Reed’s debut

she was natuurally upset when on amazon, a wanker said I’d obviously never read the book as Jack Taylor would never like it!

Oh lovely payback, Cornelia is nominated for the Edgar and ITW

Donna Moore is a friend of mine, I love her to bits, and make no secret of it, I thought her novel was outstanding and it won the Lefty, right out of the starting gate

a reviewer reviewed my blurb, not the book

I was asked in in an interview last week, why I took seemingly the unheard of step of blurbing Ray Banks twice . . . because I think he’s that singular and they didn’t hear me the first time

and if he wished, I’d blurb his third, because it’s about the writing

Now here’s a simple Irish test, of pure innocence and total innocence . . . if all things were equal . . . yeah, right, dream on, yada yada . . . and if you had to write the blurb for your own book . . . what would you write . . . and lest you go all humble here’s my blurb for my own book . . . ready?

Bruen has all the hallmarks of a poet manque . . . and so lacking that talent, he has taken refuge in mystery, he can’t cut it in literature, he has a voice that trades heavily on Irish-isms and if he were American, he’d be just one more wanna-be

and you were sure I was going to be nice

I dont do nice . . . even in blurbs