New Irish crime thriller redresses the balance through an “Even Flow”
Irish journalist and author Darragh McManus mixes influences as diverse as Don De Lillo, Clockwork Orange, The Smiths and Pearl Jam into a cinematic stew
Similarly, the story is told in a variety of formats: email correspondence, comic strips and fictitious newspaper articles tracking the 3W Gang’s activities. McManus even designed the book’s cover: in front of a red theater curtain and enveloped in a spotlight, a tuxedo-clad man in a balaclava stares at the camera. He holds a pistol by his side. It underlines the author’s preoccupation with form.
“What this cover says is, “Settle into your seats – the curtain is about to rise, our show’s about to begin,” explains McManus. “And this is meant on two levels. First, the story is about to commence for the reader; the “show” that is our engagement with a book.
“Second, the vigilante gang in Even Flow aren’t just kicking ass and taking names: they’re making statements. Political, social, sexual and artistic. This is vigilantism, protest and direct action as a sort of performance art. So when they begin their campaign – their “war” on macho society – it’s as if they’re lifting the curtain on a performance. Pay attention, world, this is where the fun begins.”
A graduate of the National University of Ireland, Cork, and living in Co. Clare, McManus writes features and reviews for publications like The Sunday Times, The Irish Independent and The RTE Guide in Ireland and The Guardian in the UK.
Even Flow is his third book. In 2011, McManus published Cold! Steel!! Justice!!!, a comic novel released under the pen-name Alexander O’Hara. GAA Confidential, his 2007 debut, charted the history and eccentricities of the Gaelic Athletic Association, asking soul-searching questions – like how would The Sunday Game clichés translate into Portuguese?
The idea for Even Flow was born during McManus’ college days. A spate of violent attacks on students suspected of being gay prompted heated discussions on how to respond. Labelled ‘queer-bashing’ by the media at the time, the author imagined how a vigilante gang of ‘queer-basher bashers’ would retaliate.
“I wanted a gang of feminists and gay rights activists that were the antithesis of the stereotype,” he says. “They’re sensitive, thoughtful and well-educated, but they’re also physically courageous, able to fight – and ruthless. They’re cool and daring and have a lot of flair.”
‘Even Flow’ is published by Roundfire Books and is available on Amazon.
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