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Athena
Athena
by John Banville
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork by a great writer, 29 May 2014
This review is from: Athena (Paperback)
John Banville's Frames trilogy (The Book of Evidence, Ghosts, Athena) are best read in order -- the nuance of character would not be altogether lost, but would be somewhat undermined were the sequence altered. Banville's language is exceptional in all three, but his capacity for exploring the interiority of his narrator grows richer with each book. Perhaps I like Ghosts the best of the three, this based in large part on what transpires (in plot) in that portion of this triptych; however, for pure elegance, not just in the sentences (the music) but also by way of the interiority, this book is remarkable. While it is occasionally discomfiting to be enmeshed within this somewhat tawdry world, the juxtaposed heights of thought, of artistry, of sublime understatement, makes this a book of true wonder. In one of his descriptions of a painting (each chapter starts with such a description), Banville indirectly takes aim at his critics, and playfully examines his own practice. This self-reflexive passage was truly lovely.


Ghosts
Ghosts
by John Banville
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Some of the best writing in English, 20 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Ghosts (Paperback)
John Banville began to hit his stride with Mefisto, and then keeps getting better. Ghosts has a depth of beauty that is hard to encapsulate. The main character has an interior life that is peculiar, specific and altogether believable. In that, we are reading into the mind of this figure, a character with a terrifying past (and thus a capacity to do unthinkably horrible things) but also a tenderness in his consideration of that past, and of his present, albeit, in both time positions, also a capacity for the ironic eyebrow lift. He is not a sentimentalist, but he is inherently human, nuanced, alive. Banville is one of a small handful of writers who have mastered the capacity to dig deep into the soul of his characters: he's on par with the best work of Nicholas Mosley and Patrick White; and perhaps akin to Lori Baker. It is a different version of interiority than one might get from Beckett, but equally riveting. Read The Book of Evidence first. Ghosts, to my mind, is even better (it rivals Banville's The Infinities, which is, to my mind, his most perfect book), and perhaps more likeable than Athena (though which of these two titles is better remains a question I've yet to settle). Reading Banville is a bit like shuttling along in one's own brain. His perceptions are often variant, the memories variant, but again, they also sufficiently align. And even when they do not precisely align, they conjure the thought-emotion process in such a way that one can be moved by the slightest pull on the sentence. And Banville has mastered the pull on the sentence.


The Glass Ocean
The Glass Ocean
by Lori Baker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite & Sad, 19 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: The Glass Ocean (Hardcover)
Lori Baker's The Glass Ocean explores and measures the many ways in which the human condition bends toward sadness and loss, and how our minds do everything possible to create alternative narratives, to overcome (or explain away) each disappointment, each loss, each devastation. The heartache builds, but also the sense of hope in the face of despair. This is a riveting, emotionally charged work of exceptional craft through which Baker builds profound energy and focus. The intersection of art and science, the natural and the human-made -- this is a beautiful and deeply engaging book of high literary art.


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