0138 | The Newton Letter – John Banville

Context: My dad presented me with this and I read it while staying with him.

REVIEW
This pamphlet of a novella wasn’t anything remarkable. Never read any Banville but from this brief reading (97 pages), he comes across as a less-polished version of Colm Toibin (see esp. The Heather Blazing). Toibin writes with such pathos but Banville seemed to write with more smarm than pathos. Perhaps though, that was the point and I’m just ignorant. Seems more likely.

The story is about misconceptions of people. Reminded me of the only bit of American Pastoral that I enjoyed and quoted on my review. Yes, we can – in fact we usually – get people wrong. But rather than seeing this as a bit of a crisis, I kind of like this. As long as we all admit that we’re wrong about people and then use this as a spur to understanding, we can’t go wrong.

But if we get all tied up with angst, which the end of this book seems to indicated might be Banville’s perspective, we’ll never get past our own anxieties to focus on the other.

FIRST LINE
Words fail me, Clio.

CLOSING LINE
Shall I awake in a few months, a few years, broken and deceived in the midst of new ruins?

RATING
rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb

ALSO BLOGGED HELPFULLY BY
Immobile Explorations | Ready When You Are, C.B.

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