December 11, 2008


Rory O'Connor

Can I just say, as a Dubliner, that this makes me very very bored? You didn't extract one new piece of information from Banville, and I feel very sorry for him having to put up with such uninspired questioners ALL THE TIME. OK, maybe he doesn't want to part with any new insights, and the metabolised feeling is all in the novels, but couldn't you at least TRY?

Good photo of the gloom of Dublin, though, and it really is like that. I only found that alleyway from pt 2 or 3 the other day, so it was well spotted.


Well, as an avid reader of Banville who lives in Orange County, I enjoyed your glimpses of a city I've yet to visit and the way you managed to interview both writers (Banville and Black). I was not expecting a deconstruction of the work or the writer, such as the commenter above may have been. My experience lends me to believe writers can often be the hardest to interview if the interviewer is trying to understand how the bezels, springs and dials work, as opposed to discussing how and why the writer tells time.

I, for one, enjoyed the segments and look forward to more of this kind of reportage here at TEV. Happy Holidays!

Rory O'Connor

If you're a true Banville reader you SHOULD be expecting a deconstruction of the work! Maybe I'm wrong to get annoyed at the usual puff pieces, but I've read this piece fifty times in fifty newspapers!

Also I was a bit twee-Irishy in saying Dublin is "like that". It's like that becauase the world is like that.


I don't think you're wrong - I'd love to delve deeper into his work. But I'm sure an hour of tea would not even begin to yield his genius, which is why I don't think it's necessary to critique what wasn't probed.

Rory O'Connor

Yeah, you're on the ball, peace out

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • 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."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    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


    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."