Self-conscious & pretentious. Maybe I will finish it another time when I am feeling more generous.
This man Banville is damn good at what he does, even though the result is not always pleasing. He has what I perceive as the Irish sickness -- indulgence in gloom and an obsession with death. It has almost caused me to give up on Irish writers altogether. Banville's protagonist (aptly named Max Morden) subjects himself to starkly merciless self-examination; he's a neurotic, morose hypochondriac. That he has been emotionally stricken by the death of his wife I can certainly accept; but that he has never recovered from a childhood infatuation and related grief of some fifty years previous is taking things too far. There are many pages of self-flagellation and navel gazing where nothing much really happens.
On a more positive note, Banville's facility with prose is admirable. His extravagance of language is at times spectacular. Like the Cheshire Cat, he takes great liberties with the conventional meaning of words, even creating his own variations as he sees fit. I'm sure no one else has ever included all of catafalque, crepitant, apotheosis, clamacteric, histrionic euphoria, Valhalla petulance and posthumous transfiguration in one single page! Are some of those even words? Anyway, his prose is also livened up with a number of oddities: For example, he talks to himself as a writer, inserting little asides, critiquing his own sentences. His protagonist (Banville himself, surely?) is hypersensitive to smells, going on at great length about their significance. And when he chooses to do so, he can be hilariously droll.
To sum up: Not very much of a story, a singularly unattractive protagonist but fabulous language almost redeems it. A strong 3 1/2 stars.
Winner of the Man Booker prize in 2005 this is an elegiac beautifully written piece of prose that lack even the pretence of a plot and very thinly drawn characters. Banville, who prides himself on his exquisitely written sentences, on the musical cadence of his prose hit a home run on those aspects This protagonist is among the least objectionable of his normal lineup but can't we get a Banville book written in that sublime prose that has a nice plot and a protagonist that we don't hate?
Wintry. It's not just the beautiful language that redeems the gloom, but this character, in his wonderful sublime stream of consciousness, sometimes becomes humanly trivial.
I lost total interest in this this one. Although beautifully written, I kept gravitating away from it until I simply dropped it back into the library return box - not even halfway through.
It may have won the Booker, but I gave up 1/2 way through. Way too precious for my taste, although there are some wonderful bits.
Not my idea of a good read. Although a short book, it feels much longer.
I really enjoyed this novel. It is a complex and extremely well-written book. I plan to read more of Banville's work.
Banville's lyrical waltz through the dark corridors of grief put to words introspections and feelings that bereaved may feel but be unable to express. The way in which Banvilles brings his main character into reflective moments then abruptly into fantastical or detached recollections of fond moments from his past is a testament to how difficult reflecting on grief can be psychologically. The scattered memories and thoughts of pay homage to the beautiful nature of the little moments in life that shine through changes and time.
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