viernes, 15 de mayo de 2009

The Book Of Evidence by John Banville

Freddie Montgomery, the central character of John Banville’s The Book Of Evidence, is an apparently complex man. The word ‘apparently’ is important because he has a tendency to cloak really quite simple actions in complex, sometimes convoluted narrative.

The Book Of Evidence has a strong plot, but one that is revealed only piecemeal in the form of what seem at first sight to be the random recollections of an imprisoned man. A potential reader would not want a listing of these details here, since the manner of their revelation is one of the most absorbing aspects of this beautifully crafted book. As Freddie reveals his story, just a little at a time, we learn his motives and discover precisely what he has done to warrant his incarceration and trial. This jigsaw of history eventually fits together to reveal a series of events and relationships that were perhaps always confused. That’s life. Suffice it to say that there is a family history, an art collection, the theft of a painting and a murder, nothing less than the smashing of a woman’s head with a hammer. Piece that together with a gay bar, snippets of Ireland, police and prison and there is the basic framework of John Banville’s novel.

It is the author’s use of language, however, that creates most of this book’s effect. Though never aspiring to difficulty for its own sake, the style is often complex, often employs convoluted sentences that meander their way to places their openings seem unable even to conceive. Their colour and effect make The Book Of Evidence a delight to read from beginning to end. But some time before the end, their effect may also be likened to the surface of a busy canvas whose almost fanatical attention to detail eventually drags attention away from the overall design. For some, the style might begin to grate.

Thus, by the end of the book, I felt that the stylistic invention had begun to dominate, to confuse, even obfuscate. There were powerful points to make about the character of Freddie, but the parts that adhered – sometimes randomly – to his outline rather confused the impression he made. There again, that might just have been the point, since he also eventually managed to convey a peculiarly individual, a strangely distant and detached relationship with his own actions and motives. In the end, we know just as much about Freddie as he wanted us to know.

View this book on amazon
The Book of Evidence

No hay comentarios: