“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.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: John Banville

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...

What crime novel would you most like to have written?
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT – though I would have smartened up Dostoyevsky’s tin-eared prose style.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Adrian Leverkuhn, in Thomas Mann’s DOCTOR FAUSTUS: an utter monster but a supremely great artist. I would have worked at helping him to find his inner nice person. Ha.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t know, really. I find bad books hard to read.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Putting down the first notes for my new novel, which I did a few days ago. At this stage, all is possibility, conviction, confidence, happiness. In a year or two I’ll be wading through mud up to my armpits.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
THE THIRD POLICEMAN, Flann O’Brien.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Ditto.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst is never being able to get it just right, best is being able, occasionally, to get it not entirely wrong.

The pitch for your next book is …?
My next book will be another Benjamin, called ELEGY FOR APRIL. “Quirke on the trail of another dead girl, though the real cliff-hanging question is, Will he go back on the booze?”

Who are you reading right now?
LIBERTY, by Isaiah Berlin, FROM THE OTHER SHORE by Alexander Herzen, INSIDE THE SKY by William Langewiesche, and THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY by Patricia Highsmith. Utter pleasures, utterly guiltless.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’d say, You don’t exist, so forget it.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Since I’m two-in-one I get six words, yes? Poetic, graceful, irresistible. Dour, dark, misanthropic. You decide which set fits JB and which BB. Or do a mix and match?

John Banville’s THE INFINITIES is published by Picador.

10 comments:

adrian mckinty said...

Say what you like about Mr B but he's got exquisite taste: The Third Policeman IS the best Irish crime novel. And Patricia Highsmith is an utter joy.

seana said...

He is funny, too. My guess is that he likes being seen as a bit of a monster himself. Or at least doesn't at all mind it.

Declan Burke said...

I think it's all part of the persona, Seana ... No moreso than James Ellroy, for example, I think Banville understands that it's no harm if the theatre of self-promotion lends itself to the grotesque once in a while.

Adrian - is The Third Policeman a crime novel? Or just a novel with a crime in it? I dunno ...

Cheers, Dec

Andrew said...

Was convinced this was a spoof after the first answer.

Quirke on the trail of another dead girl, though the real cliff-hanging question is, Will he go back on the booze?”

Yeah, because the world needs yet another tortured reformed alcoholic PI. If that's the real cliff-hanger then count me out.

Uriah Robinson said...

Isn't Quirke, Jack Taylor with a medical qualification ?

This interview was like the time Winston Churchill wanted to meet Isaiah Berlin, he was brought to number 10, and when Winston asked him what had he written lately he replied White Christmas.

seana said...

James Ellroy's shtick is a good comparison.

And that Isaiah Berlin story is hilarious, Uriah.

Anonymous said...

Banville is great and always has his tongue stuck firmly in his cheek. Did anyone see the RTE Arts Lives programme on him last year? He came across as someone who, rather than being dour, had a very mischeivous sense of humour.

Adrian.

Fiona said...

I used to encounter him regularly and he is a lovely, witty man who doted on his two young daughters. Like Dec, they had him wrapped around their little fingers. :)

Fiona said...

(I meant similarly to Ms Lilyput having Dec firmly in place, of course) ;)

Declan Burke said...

Andrew - I'd imagine the "alcholic PI cliffhanger" was a piss-take, for the reason you're suggesting ...

Adrian - that Arts Lives programme - Being John Banville - was terrific. Ice Box Films put it together. There's a clip here: http://crimealwayspays.blogspot.com/2008/01/being-benny-blanco.html

Fiona - the Princess Lilyput has Da-Da wrapped around fingers, toes and ears. She was trying to change her dolly's nappy this morning ... including the bit where she took down the baby talc and started shaking it in the appropriate place. She's only 16 months ...!

Cheers, Dec