- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (6 Aug. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0330372327
- ISBN-13: 978-0330372329
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 325,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Birchwood Paperback – 6 Aug 2010
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" This is one of the most startling of the century's varied achievements in Irish writing."
-- Seamus Deane
" John Banville is one of the greatest masters of the English language."
-- "The Scotsman"
" "Birchwoo"d represents a watershed in contemporary Irish writing.."
-- Colm Toibin
"This is one of the most startling of the century's varied achievements in Irish writing."
"John Banville is one of the greatest masters of the English language."
""Birchwoo"d represents a watershed in contemporary Irish writing.."
--Colm Toibin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘This is one of the most startling of the century’s varied achievements in Irish writing’ Seamus DeaneSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Birchwood is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. While the writing style is reminiscent of Proust in its dreamy beauty, it clips along at a much faster pace, as does the sometimes bizarre plot of childhood resentments, exploding grandmothers, running off to join the circus, searching for a long-lost sister, etc. Also there's a detachment from the destruction that comes to Birchwood, a sense that it's inevitable and even deserved, a strong context of the social unrest in Ireland at the time.
The writing was brilliant from the first page to the last, and made me want to read a lot more of Banville's work.
The first part of the novella focuses on Gabriel's childhood, as he grows, he stumbles on a mystery surrounding his birth, and he finally comes to believe that he has a missing twin sister and runs away from home to find her. The second part is devoted to his adventures away from home.
Primarily the story deals with time and memory with the author jumping backwards and forwards with both, magic realism and a simple but effective writing style makes this novella worth reading even if it does get confusing and over-elaborated at times.
There's just something a little bit snooty and detached about Banville's style in my opinion, and his focus never quite seems to the purpose. I'm sure other readers will regard the meandering whimsy charming - and I'm not saying there aren't things to admire.
With its father-son relationship, insanity and violence, Birchwood reminds me of Nick Cave's And the Ass Saw the Angel. With a little less gore and mutilations (but certainly not without them). The language is equally breathtaking so that even death captivates. It's a world of magical realism set among circus folk but a world deprived of laughter; there are no happy clowns here throwing pies in your face - the tone is sinister and the clowns malevolent. The language spellbinding. 175 pages that you don't want to end.
In some passages the use of words borders on poetic.
The story has great pace and feeling.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Promising ingredients lead to a derivative tale in this early work. Be wary of the hypePublished 5 months ago by Partial Mind
John Banville is a wonderful writer. His imagery dazzles and his inventiveness is unparalleled. I highly recommend him to every reader.Published 24 months ago by Reg Warwick