“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.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Mysterious Case Of The Pointless Pseudonym

So why did John Banville take the Benjamin Black pseudonym for Christine Falls? Books to the Ceiling wanders off on an interesting tangent whilst reviewing Barry Forshaw’s The Rough Guide to Fiction, to wit:
"In his thoughtful foreword, Ian Rankin asks if it is possible to hope that crime fiction is finally getting the respect that has long been owing to it. He is pleased that the genre is getting increasing coverage in the major media, and yet “…when a famous prize-winning literary novelist recently turned his hand to crime fiction, he felt obliged to put it out under another name.” My (educated) guess is that Rankin is referring to Christine Falls by Benjamin Black, alias John Banville. I think we can also consider the possibility, where this particular example is concerned, that Banville wants this projected series to be more readily identifiable by being issued under his pseudonym. Certainly no effort was made to conceal his true identity; the inside jacket flap proclaims Christine Falls to be “the debut crime novel from Booker Award winner John Banville.” (The sequel, The Silver Swan, is due out in March of 2008.) The other way to look at this phenomenon is to ask the question: what is the next (really bracing) challenge a Booker-winning literary novelist would want to take on? Why, writing quality crime fiction, naturally! (So take heart, Ian.)"
Hmmmm. A noble thesis, Mr Books to the Ceiling, sir – but only if you’re prepared to overlook the ‘quality crime fiction’ of Mefisto, The Book of Evidence and The Untouchable. Ah, that pimpernelish Mr Banville, he eludes our vain grasping yet again …

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