Tuesday, June 9, 2015

John Banville's THE SEA: Sentence Geek's Delight

Banville is a brilliant enough stylist to make you overlook both the essential misanthropy of this book and its unwillingness (for most of the undertaking, at any rate) to bother with a plot. As my friend +Richard Gibney put it, THE SEA "really takes off in the last ten pages."

It does indeed, and it packs a wallop. Loss, memory (functional and failing), grief, alienation, and survivor guilt are all major themes here, and they all pay off.

With prose that astonishes on nearly every page, and an uncanny ability to capture the essence of a given moment, Banville earned all the accolades this intricate novel brought him. Even so, I suspect THE SEA's density, its pervasive cynicism, and its fundamental distrust of people will not be to everyone's taste. Sentence geeks, on the other hand, will follow his lead. I did.