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3.0 out of 5 stars
The Killing of a Bank Manager, 14 Feb 2012
This is a novel that takes risks; risks - which to be fair - don't always come off. Kavanagh writes like some kind of neo-Romantic libertine given free run of an opium den and an Oxford English Dictionary. At times, the language seems incongruous and, to be honest, passé. One couldn't help feeling that if Burroughs read this he would have winced slightly at Kavanagh's phrasing. Still, a novel that sweeps with Joycean ambition through the European cultural consciousness in less than 150 pages deserves to be praised. What the novel may lack in technical poise and its tendency to get snared by its eagerness to appear well written, it more than makes up for in its experimental form and its author's endeavour to affirm a genuinely humane spirit.
At its best, `The Killing of a Bank Manager' conveys the comic - near-farcical - intensity of human desire and the disturbing tenuousness of these emotions. However, it strays too often into repetitious use of stock words and images, and over elaborate lists of thesaurus-mined synonyms and approximations that do little save to distract. Where pith would suffice, Kavanagh - too often, it has to be said - opts for the loquacious garrulousness of the verbose tautologist. Nonetheless, a wonderfully refreshing alternative to the `play it safe', `no nonsense' banality of contemporary realism and bourgeois, character-obsessed `meat-and-two-veg' that usually gets served up.