“Let’s get this right again: Booker Prize winner John Banville, distressed by his poor sales, decides to pen a series of crime novels under a pseudonym – hello Benjamin Black – on the understanding that the people who would never, ever buy a John Banville book might accidentally pick one up, resulting in the Tesco-friendly best-seller every highbrow author secretly craves. And it works! Not only that, Banville’s new Black book, THE SILVER SWAN, got better all-round reviews than his last couple of ‘proper’ novels – AND you can actually read the bleedin’ thing, for a change. The Chancer Inquires: Can a pseudonym kill off the real author? Very Stephen King’s THE DARK HALF, like. Word has it that Banville is set to receive one of the literary community’s highest honours – a mammoth interview in The Paris Review. Trust us: It’s a big deal. While we’re at it, The Chancer wants Roddy Doyle to stick with the kids’ books – ‘Rover Saves Christmas’ gets better with every read. Best Irish Christmas story EVER? Absolutely. Beats the shite out of ‘The Dead’, for starters.”Get off that fence, sir, you’ll get splinters up your wazoo. Having divested himself of his opinion, The Chancer then links to a nifty little interview from back in May at LA Weekly, ‘John Banville Takes on Benjamin Black: Still killing women’, where Benny Blanco gets into the Benjamin Black nitty-gritty with Nathan Ihara, to wit:
NI: But let’s talk about the book — what led you to write in such a drastically different style?Hmmmm, sounds to us like a case for quirky ol’ Quirke. Any clues to get him started, gentle readers?
BB: “At the time I thought it was an exercise because I had finished the John Banville novel THE SEA and I started to read Georges Simenon. I was having lunch with the political philosopher John [N.] Gray, and he put me on to him. So I started to read and I was really blown away by this extraordinary writer. I had never known this kind of thing was possible, to create such work in that kind of simple — well, apparently simple — direct style. So it wasn’t any more serious than that. But looking back I think it was very much a transition. It was a way of breaking free from the books I had been writing for the last 20 years, these first-person narratives of obsessed half-demented men going on and on and on and on. I had to break out of that. And I see now in retrospect that CHRISTINE FALLS was part of that process. Because it’s a completely different process than writing as John Banville. It’s completely action driven, and it’s dialogue driven, and it’s character driven. Which none of my Banville books are – I’m not sure what drives them.”