“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Monday, December 8, 2008

On Bludgeoning Puppies: Yep, It’s The John Banville Interview

Our good friend Peter Murphy posts a quite superb interview with John Banville (right) on his Blog of Revelations (as far as I know, it’s also carried in the current issue of Hot Press magazine), which intros thusly:
Banville the Booker Winner. Banville the Book Reviewer. Banville the master craftsman who fashions beautifully written novels like MEFISTO, THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE and THE SEA, mapping the inner psyches of his protagonists with forensic precision while co-opting neo-classical themes and allusions.
  Banville the cold Nabokovian prose sculptor who couldn’t make us care about his characters if he bludgeoned their puppies to death before our eyes. Banville the pariah of the chattering literati who accuse him of aloofness and arrogance. Banville the highbrow stylist slumming it in the noir genre under the non de plume Benjamin Black to the derision of an Irish crime-writing contingent who maintain he couldn’t plot his way out of a paper bag.
  Banville the hatchet-jobber who’s driven his pen into the hearts of everyone from Nadine Gordimer to Ian McEwan (whose SATURDAY he termed a “dismayingly bad book”). Banville the ungracious victor, who, after scooping the Man Booker with THE SEA in 2005, sniffed something about being glad that the prize went to a work of art for a change …
  Trust me, it’s a terrific piece, and well worth your time, and especially if you think Banville = Blandville …

2 comments:

Dana King said...

Wow. Where to start? "Asshole" comes to mind. That whole business about who was a terrible writer, and great terrible books and terrible great books. I mean, I'm still learning the langyage and all, but I think the man might just be a shitehawker.

This piece is all I really know about him, but I can see why Dec Hughes got apoplectic about him at Bouchercon. Few interviews have ever disinclined me to read someone's books more than this one.

Declan Burke said...

Harsh words, Dana. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed that piece. I think we need to take Banville / Black with a large pinch of salt - I'm pretty sure he does. All that matters is what's left behind on the page ...

Cheers, Dec