“Now, looking back I think the invention of Benjamin Black was John Banville’s ploy to find his way out of what was suspiciously like a rut. I took the pseudonym to indicate that the venture was not an elaborate, post-modernist, literary joke. It is straightforward. I simply discovered I had this facility for cheap fiction.”Said with tongue, no doubt, very firmly wedged in cheek. The vid below is taken from the end of the excellent documentary screened on RTE recently, Being John Banville, which was directed by Charlie McCarthy for Ice Box Films, in which Benny may or may not have inadvertently hit the why-writers-write nail squarely on the head …
“Yes, in a curious way, it’s something I can’t explain, I feel more estranged from the work of John Banville than from the novels of Benjamin Black. I’ve a certain pride in the Benjamin Black books. Those by Banville I hate and loathe and they embarrass me. They stand there, like a set of awful, unforgiven sins.”
So who sells better? “I couldn't tell you,” he says. “I don’t ask. It’s like asking your bank manager about your bank balance. It’s always a shock — or a disappointment.” Then he relents: “Black, in paperback I’d reckon, outsells Banville. But then, THE SEA — because of the Booker win — sold superbly. My great ambition,” he adds, “is for Black to win the Booker and later on to pick up the Nobel.”
“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.
Friday, January 25, 2008
The Creature From The Black Lagoon
John Banville (right) recently unburdened himself to The Age’s Tom Adair, ruminating about the phenomenon that is Benny Blanco, aka Benjamin Black. Sample outtakes runneth thusly: