Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Book of Evidence by John Banville

I got to this late. I had recently finished "The Untouchable", a much more florid novel, and was impressed enough to visit Banville's back catalogue. This is a very different type of book. The sociopathic first person narration reminds me of "Lolita". The similiarities to the McArthur case are marked. Freddie Montgomery, the narrator, is from the same social mileu and has the same flakey career trajectory. The appalling scene where the servant girl is beaten to death with the hammer is very similar to what happened the nurse in McArthur's case - right down to the detail of the ambulance guiding him to the hospital. The apartment in Dalkey becomes a house and the Attorney General becomes an art dealer. The raffish social scene seems similiar also. This is a very creepy book albeit written beautifully. If Banville's aim was to bring us into the mind of an affectless sociopath then he succeeded. Here and there we see evidence of Banville's intellectual interests. He uses Nietzsche's "those who look too long into the abyss" aphorism in an unattributed manner late in the book. A dark exquisite masperpiece.