Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

He’ll Be Having A Go At The Lilies Next

He pee’d off the literary crew when, on accepting the Booker Prize for THE SEA, he announced that it was ‘nice to see a work of art win for a change’. Then he got stuck into crime writing – allegedly. Yesterday, in a fine interview with Fiona McCann in the Irish Times, John Banville had a go at the webnauts. To wit:
Banville is full of opinions: on art, on sport, on working life, on the internet. “Most of the stuff that people churn out on the internet is rubbish. People should learn a little bit of reticence and not imagine that they have things to say.”
  Funnily enough, I read the interview on the Irish Times’ website, in which John Banville is, as Fiona McCann points out, ‘full of opinions’ …
  The interview, of course, was marking the publication of the latest Banville novel, THE INFINITIES, which I read a couple of weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed. Told over the course of one day, as a family gathers about its dying pater familias, Adam Godley, the story is for the most part narrated by Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods – although, as Hermes points out, the gods being a rather protean lot, the first-person narrative duties do tend to switch about. The tale is a gently meandering one of mortal and immortal failings and foibles, and love stories, and minor infidelities, and quantum physics. The characters are fragmentary, deliberately so, as Hermes wafts in and out of their lives, with the story as a whole offering an incomplete mosaic of a family trapped in the amber of one day. The language, the prose style, is beautifully rendered, even if there are sentences and even whole paragraphs that billow like glass overblown – although it should be said that almost every line is shot through with sly and self-mocking humour. At the risk of displaying an unseemly lack of reticence, I’d say it’s Banville’s most engaging book for some time, an arched eyebrow of a comic novel that seems to appreciate its place in the grand scheme of things, which is, I think, because of its admittedly enjoyable angsty self-awareness, on the lower slopes of the empyrean rather than in the pantheon itself.