Monday, 2 June 2008
"John Banville writing as Benjamin Black" - why do authors feel the need to do that? I'm being disingenuous; I know exactly why they do it. This is Banville wishing to distance his Man Booker winning name from the grubby genre of crime (note that he picks a really naff alias, "Benjamin Black" , as if to stress the fact that we are not to take this tangent too seriously). Of course he wants it to sell so we have a little sticky in the bottom corner reminding us whose hand is at play here.
None of which alters the fact that Christine Falls is a damn good book. If I wanted to be controversial, I'd say it was one of the best things Banville's written.
This is his first official foray into crime (although I think Body of Evidence probably counts) and I loved it. Really rich, rewarding stuff. Great cast of characters, deft plotting and wonderfully evocative depictions of 1950s Dublin and Boston MA.
The difference it makes to read a crime novel written by such a competent and compelling wordsmith! It restored my faith in the genre. Does that make me sound a crashing snob? So be it.
As for his "making the transition" from literary to crime, well, someone who's read a heck of a lot more of Banville's stuff would have to take up that cudgel. I only spotted a couple of places where I'd have edited - an adjective here or there, nothing drastic. I suspect in fact that the discipline of focusing on character and plot may have been a good exercise for the economy of his style.
I am now reading The Untouchable which of course demands a certain "over the top" narrative style and has its merits, but gee golly it does make me long for the crisp, cool rendering of Christine Falls.