In 1996, McCormack was awarded the Rooney Prize for Literature and his collection of short stories was a New York Times Book of the Year.
Notes from a Coma was shortlisted for the Irish Novel of the Year. John Waters from the Irish Times described it as "the greatest Irish novel of the decade...."
Recently I asked McCormack about what he was reading. His reply:
The Death of Sweet Mister… Daniel WoodrellRead more about Notes from a Coma at the publisher's website.
I was in the mood recently for a sharp, sudden crime novel and a friend of mine handed me this with the caution that while it was indeed a crime novel, it plays to very different rules. Yes, there’s thieving and killing and dope smoking and loose gun play but these are peripheral concerns. The real horror was in the inevitable and bloodless destruction of a soul…. So I read on in an anxious twist, right down to the ashen dawn of the last lines and when I closed the book I put it back on my shelf and decided against passing it on to anyone else for fear their hearts would be broken also….
Daniel Woodrell is a having a bit of a moment here in Ireland - three times I’ve heard his name mentioned recently both as a special exemplar of the crime novel and also as a prose stylist. Both of these estimations are wrong. His prose has an idiomatic twist and jive to it which make it inimitable but useless as an exemplar. And there’s too much normal decency underscoring his drama – there is none of the sly infatuation with skank and violence which usurps most crime novels.
If I get over Sweet Mister I might chance another of his books. But that could be a while yet.