America may well be the official home of pulp and noir but the United Kingdom, long perceived as the land of Dame Agatha style cozies and stuck-up, Latin quoting police detectives, also has a grubby underbelly which has produced plenty of gritty crime writing. And there is a new wave of Brit Grit writers leaving their bloodstained footprints across this septic isle, too.
The godfathers of the new Brit Grit must be Ted Lewis, Derek Raymond and Mark Timlin with Jake Arnott, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid as part of the next wave.
But in the last few years, more and more BRIT GRIT writers have been creeping out of the woodwork, through the cracks in the pavement, out of the dark and dingy alleyways.
Scottish crime writer Tony Black, for example, is the author of four novels featuring punch drunk, booze addled Gus Dury, an ex journalist turned reluctant Private Investigator whose shoulder has more chips than Harry Ramsden. The books see Gus sniff around the back streets of Edinburgh and follow the rancid trail of crime and corruption right to to the top.
They’re gruelling, intense and exciting journeys – not without moments of humour and tenderness. You may feel as if you’d like to give Gus a smack every few pages but the pit bull proves himself again and again.
Gus Dury may be in the gutter but he’s still looking at the stars, albeit through the bottom of a bottle of whisky. And it’s down to Black’s great writing that when you you finish one of his novels you feel battered and bruised but can’t wait for the next round.
Pulp mastermind Otto Prenzler famously said that noir is about losers and not private investigators. Mr Prenzler has probably never read any Tony Black – or fellow Scot Ray Banks, then. Banks’ Cal Inness quartet is the real deal. Inness is true loser. He’s a fuck up. A lush. A mess. A man so far in denial he’s in the Suez. In each brilliant tale he bang’s his head against as many brick walls as he can. And he feels the pain. And so do we. The quartet is as bitter and dark as an Irish coffee and leads to a shocking yet inevitable conclusion.
While we’re on about dark quartet’s, of course, we should mention David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet, dissecting the lives affected by the Yorkshire Ripper with dense prog-rock prose.
An there’s more: There’s Alan Guthrie who gave us the best novel of 2009 with SLAMMER; Nick Quantrill ‘Broken Dreams’ which looks at a Northern English town that has had it’s fair shair of kickings but still isn’t out for the count; Bad Penny Blues is Cathi Unsworth’s ambitious look at the many facets of London in the late fifties and early sixies; Comic genius Charlie William’s and his nightclub bouncer hero Royston Blake help you see life in a way that Paulo Coelho never will!
There are BRIT GRIT publishers too: Newcastle’s Byker Books publish Industrial Strength Fiction such as the Radgepacket – Tales from the Inner Cities anthologies; Brighton based Pulp Press publish short, punchy novellas with the slogan ‘Turn Off Your T.V. and discover fiction like it used to be.’
And there’s even more …
There’s Martyn Waites, Danny Hogan, Gary Dobbs, Sheila Quigley, Ian Ayris, UV Ray, Dominic Milne, Danny King, Col Bury, Mark Billingham, Alan Griffiths (whose blog is aptly called BRIT GRIT), Julie Lewthwaite, Steve Mosby, Richard Godwin, Colin Graham, Neil White, Andy Rivers . . . and more! There’s even comic BRIT GRIT from Donna Moore and Christopher Brookmyre, BRIT GRIT thrillers from Matt Hilton and surrealist BRIT GRIT from Jason Michel!
IT’S NOT SHIT!
(Adapted from a piece written for the programme of the 2010 NoirCon)
BIO: Spinetingler Award nominee Paul D. Brazill was born in England and lives in Poland.His stories have appeared in a number of online and print magazines and even
The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Fiction 2011, edited by BRIT GRIT criminal mastermind Maxim Jakubowski.
His blog is YOU WOULD SAY THAT WOULDN’T YOU?
21 thoughts on “I Didn’t Say That, Did I?: BRIT GRIT by Paul D. Brazill”
You have spotlighted so many fine writers here, Paul.
The UK invasion continues. But the rebel alliance will strike back! 🙂
Terrific article Mr B!
Top piece, Paul.
Brit Grit Lit, innit!
A good shit it is, too!
Another handful of writers I need to look into. The usual great work, Paul!
Fantastic stuff, Mr. Brazill. I would include yourself in the Brit Grit category as well.
Glad you enjoyed it, lads!
“Surrealist BRIT GRIT” – I like that … Great stuff as usual PDB!
Great article, total truth about the darkness of Brit Noir – and getting darker what with things as they are…
Hi! Paul D.Brazill…
This is my first-time posting here at Pulp-Metal Magazine…What a very well-written, very interesting, and very informative article about up-and coming Brit[tish]-authors on the move in literary circles.
Thanks, for sharing!
“Pulp mastermind Otto Prenzler famously said that noir is about losers and not private investigators. Mr Prenzler has probably never read any Tony Black – or fellow Scot Ray Banks, then. Banks’ Cal Inness quartet is the real deal.”
Oh! yes, I’am familiar with and a own a Film noir book by Mr.Otto Prenzler.[101 Greatest Movies Of Mystery and Suspense] Therefore, I have no other choice, but to agree with your opinion too!
Dee “I’am reader, not a writer” Dee
I would have said this was a good piece.
However, since my name made it in there I have to say it’s a very, very good piece.
Brit grit – it’s definitely not shit.
And even then, Brit Shit – it smells of literary violets.
Cheers to the Brit Grits! You all are a spectacular bunch. I personally don’t see the difference between this american/British noir that everyone keeps talking about. Obviously, our cultures are different, so it gives the slants and perspectives a good wallop of difference. But so do each of us as individuals. Are we not each our own worlds/universes? So to hell which continent we live on or are from! Perhaps I am being being my typical oblivious to the world’s standards. Either way, cheers to you lovely dark noir writers, over seas and abroad, here and there and everywhere. 😉
Paul, I’m honoured to be included in this list. Thanks mate.
Great article, Paul! Very informative. I have just ordered Bad Penny Blues… can’t wait to read it. A friend recommended Cathi Unsworth some time back, but I had never gotten around to reading her. Your mention of her latest sent me right over to Amazon. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂
In the gutter or out this was a great write, Paul.
You are a prolific guy. Thanks for being my first guest at Jeanette Cheezum’s cavalcadeofstars.wordpress.com
Thanks for stopping over everyone.
Thanks for the mention, Paul. I’m chuffed to be mentioned alongside all these other greats. BRIT GRIT THRILLERS – I like the sound of that.
The Scots are kicking ass lately too. Is there some kind of epidemic going on over there? Whatever it is, it’s a way cool contagion.
One thing I have noticed is that there are certain British zines that were formally what I’d consider quite cutting edge. But these days they appear to be focusing almost exclusively on Eastern European writers. And to be frank, much of it is a crock of shit. There is not only a healthy scene in the noir and pulp genre going on in Britain but in literature in general.
Maybe these rags feel this penchant for looking abroad makes them appear exotic in some way but hese formally avant-garde mags are getting left behind. Their finger is off the pulse.
Reblogged this on 13 Shots Of Grit.