If Michael Curtin happened to arrive for morning coffee, the chances were he’d ask one question.
Do you know what I watched on telly yesterday?
And the answer is Yes. Yes, Mick, I know exactly what you watched yesterday. You watched the 569th re-run of Shane, just in case there was a blade of grass you didn’t notice on the previous 568 viewings.
That was Mick Curtin, author of six fine novels, a hilarious man with a fine dark sense of humour and a keenly-honed sense of everyone’s absurdity, including his own. A man with an artist’s eye and a deep instinct for the written word. A man who, better than most, far better than me, could deliver the dry one-liner with a straight face.
A storyteller sans pareil, not only in his books, not only in his talk but even in the way he held himself, Michael Curtin spellbound all who worshipped at the shrine of his sardonic genius for many reasons, but most of all because Michael Curtin was the master of the pause, the finest and least attainable of the storyteller’s many skills.
Mick Curtin knew how to inhabit a silence like few other men. Enveloped in the peace of his soundlessness as he scanned the racing pages, you never felt awkward. You never felt the need to blurt out some meaningless commonplace because you knew that Mick would sooner or later produce a nugget of wisdom.
Now, it’s true that occasionally the nugget needed a little contemplation to dig out its inner meaning.
I wish they’d turn down that fucking music.
Is your car outside?
But just as often, he might offer you an insight into the mind of his publisher friend André Deutsch, or he might wish some misfortune on the head of Louis Van Gaal. He might tell you who stole the Bateman Cup. He might just sit and stare and that was good too.
He’s gone from us now and his passing was unobtrusive which is not how we might have wished it.
He slipped away in the night to the endless sorrow of his family but in a parallel universe wouldn’t we wish that the great Michael Curtin had gone out with a Tommy-gun, battling the Feds in the street outside his beloved Nancy Blakes?
Come out now, Buttsy Curtin with your hands in the air.
Never! You’ll never take me alive!
A burst from his Tommy-gun. A hail of lead, one final tragic embrace and Buttsy breathes his last in the arms of those he cares for most as the Feds remove their caps in respect for the Last Outlaw.
Never mind. The alternative is just fine as Michael rides out on his horse towards the Grand Tetos in slow pursuit of Wilson the killer gunslinger.
Shane’s memory will be avenged even if it takes Mick a thousand years to track down Jack Palance and we’ll be with him every step of the way.