“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Black: He’s The New Black, Apparently
It may have come to your notice that we’ve been a tad harsh at times on Benjamin Black, aka John Banville, but that’s only because we’re narky, mean-spirited buggers who begrudge him (and everyone else, naturally) their success while we flail about in a quagmire of self-loathing failure. So it’s only fair that we report on the recent buzz emanating from the general direction of Christine Falls, to wit: “This seems to be his idea of an ordinary book, but it would not be anyone else’s. Christine Falls rolls forward with haunting, sultry exoticism … toward the best kind of denouement under these circumstances: a half-inconclusive one,” claims Janet Maslin over at the New York Times, while Gregory Schneider at Contemporary Literature was even more effusive: “This is an incredibly tight novel. The tension never lets up … Benjamin Black uses language on a fulcrum tilt descending earthbound compared to cool, prose mist of John Banville’s.” Muriel Dobbin at the Washington Times was a little more restrained, however: “The question may be whether the Quirke stable is gripping enough in its characterization to become anything more than a seedy dynasty … The book reads as though the author enjoyed writing it, and its meandering pace may be explained by his envisioning it as a kick-off for a Quirke saga,” but Giles Harvey, over at The Believer, is, well, a believer: “Ostensibly a ‘genre novel,’ Christine Falls actually aspires to something far more permanent, shunning the glib lubricity of most pulp fiction for more subtle pleasures. Those familiar with Banville (right) will have expected nothing less; the neophyte, however, who picks up this racy little number anticipating nothing more than a night of brisk casual thrills may soon be surprised to find himself in the grips of a literary passion he had not gambled on.” Meanwhile, the audio version of Christine Falls, with Timothy Dalton on yakking duties, gets the hup-ya from the Washington Post: “I don’t think anyone who has read much of John Banville’s intense, deeply cerebral fiction would have guessed that he could pull off a truly entertaining mystery novel, one generous with plot and pacing appropriate to the genre, one you could listen to for sheer pleasure. Yet here it is …”, while the Boston Globe weighs in with, “This is a melancholy and brooding story in which sublime descriptions evoke time, place, and mood. Banville, er, Black writes with such lyricism that he could be describing dental hygiene and still fascinate. Thankfully, his plotting equals his phrasing, and both suit the narrator, Timothy Dalton.” And there you have it – the official Crime Always Pays big-up to Benjie Black. Worry not, fellow-travelling jealous carpers – normal service will resume shortly …