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September 12, 2005

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Scott

Great stuff, Mark. Looking forward to next Monday and part two. Just through the strength of this interview (and, I suppose, a few words over the last year from you), Banville's now officially next up on my reading list.

birnbaum

Bravo!

Somewhere in the archealogical rubble that is my archive I have an untranscibed unpublished chat with Banville— it can probably rest there quite a bit longer.

Dan Wickett

Excellent so far Mark - especially considering it's the beginning of your sit down with somebody you so obviously admire. I'd expect much more of a Farley - McCartney SNL type of beginning were I ever to sit down with such a favorite.

Enjoy,

Justine

Also looking forward to part 2.

I'm inspired by Banville's response to the Grand Canyon. The next time I meet up with the sublime, I'm heading straight for the nearest gin and tonic.

Karen

Good stuff, Mark. Looking forward to the rest. Have you read Troubles? It's terrific.

John Shannon

The whole Farrell end-of-empire "trilogy" is terrific, and each utterly different from the others. I think my favorite is probably Khrishnapur, but still--who can ever forget that decaying hotel in Troubles dropping its bits from time to time?

Angela

Let's try that again. Transcribing is quite a feat, especially when you have so much ground to cover with Banville. I'm very into your interview and will be going out to purchase Banville right away. His take on things is so incredibly interesting. I can see why you admire him so--and what a treat for you to sit and talk with him for so long! Good for you, Mark! Did he remember MOTEV's cell phone?

comic book guy

best. banville. review. ever.

..couldn't resist. JG Farrell and Bart Simpson on the same page? Very good.
Possibly RB elbowing his way in on Pynchon's territory?

TEV

Dan ... LOL!!! I love that sketch (and am a huge Beatles fan AND actually did interview McCartney years ago) ... The Sancerre surely helped. Karen, no I haven't but I do plan to. Angela, yes, he did. Actually, the first words out of my mouth when he sat down was to apologize but he was completely sympathetic, pleading his own technological struggles.

Arethusa

Oooo, must we wait 'till next Monday? Fiddlesticks.

Max

Great job, Mark, I'm very impressed and looking forward to the next one. I don't usually wish that Monday would arrive sooner.

Perry Middlemiss

You were right the first time, almost: Shroud did make the Booker longlist, but in 2002. The Booker has funny eligibility dates.

Binyavanga Wainaina

I sneaked in here to read Banville's review of Saturday a few weeks ago - a book I loathed for no reason I could articulate at the time. I discovered Banville this year, (a sunburnt copy of The Book of Evidence on a Nairobi street)and have been tearing through his books. It seems to me that we are living in the era of the spectacular sentence: there are writers who can pile in one after another. Am starting to realise that - it isn't so much the sentence - as how it is placed. Reading On Beauty and reading Banville - I felt, deeply, that Zadie Smith has not yet allowed herself silences and whispers. So much of a good book lies in small in-between places, so much in the notsaid. I wonder whether it is just as simple as time: Zadie Smith is turning around too much too quickly. Sometimes a manuscript needs to sit and stew - and with the kind of high stake book deals around... I love her writing, but it leaves me fizzless after reading it. A good book alway stays a few days with me, colouring much of what I see - Zadie stays with me only while I am reading it; I felt the same when i read The Corrections. I find, less and less, things I can read that leave room for my imagination to vault. I just need the faintest well presented suggestion - and I am off on my own. Too much work is being done for me by too many writers. Banville builds the most beautiful scenes...and knows when to stop and let go of me for a bit. That kind of timing is priceless. I hope he wins the Booker.

Regina Coragliotti

Just read "The sea". Read first line. last line then page 96 about eye infection- nebula. I knew there had to be elephants. Found them: page 144, you exterminated them on page 145, like Orwell, like Kurtz. THEN Max achieved clarity. THEN he knew. Poor Max, eleven when chloe died, no one to talk to, no one to whom he could confess his guilt. First he had to marry (Anna) then to breed (Claire), then to pass his swelling illness to Anna who died. Constance, Chloe, Anna, Claire---Then he could see his problem. The elephant in the room. Kill the elephant, release the brute.

So as in "Lolita" Nabokov, it is the narrator who seeks exposure, forgiveness. Banville

DAVID Thompson

Was given The Sea for Christmas, now am half-way through Book of Evidence, then found this incredible interview, feeling like I am discovering treasure, knowing I've just begun these books. Thanks for sharing this stuff, TEV. By the way, what I found started with Part 3, then 2, then 1. Was there a fourth part? Will I ever know? Why do I wonder if this question could possibly lead me to commit some heinous act?

Rosemary O'Connell

John, I've walked that beach a thousand times,remember well the chemist the french lady owned, later was a restaurant which was run by her son Claude in summer months.The 'Cimema' commonly known as 'The Shack'also a disco and the tennis courts you describe now our summer house! it was a trip down memory lane.

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TEV DEFINED


  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."

SECOND LOOK

  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

    Bs

    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe

    Rider_4

    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."