John Banville, The Sea (2005)

I’m so impressed that I’m not going to comment it. It was the first time I tried Banville’s book, and I’ve become an instant fan. His language is like hand-made lace: so precious and finely wrought that you can’t take your eyes off it. The Sea is not an easy read and its mood is melancholic, but it’s no reason to shirk it. Just a few paragraphs like a mouth-watering invitation to pick up this wonderful book:

At times the image of her would spring up in me unbidden, an interior succubus, and a surge of yearning would engorge the very root of my being. One greenish twilight after rain, with a wedge of wet sunlight in the window and an impossibly unseasonal thrush piping outside the dripping lupins, I lay face down on my bed in such an intense suffusion of unassuageable desire – it hovered, this desire, like a nimbus about the image of my beloved, enfolding her everywhere and nowhere focused – that I broke into sobs, lavish, loud and thrillingly beyond all control.


I see the game as a series of vivid tableaux, glimpsed instants of movements all rush and colour: Rose from the waist up racing through the ferns in her red shirt, her head held high and her black hair streaming behind her; Myles, with a streak of fern-juice on his forehead like warpaint, trying to wriggle out of my grasp as I dug my claw deeper into his flesh and felt the ball of his shoulder bone grind in its socket; another fleeting image of Rose running, this time on the hard sand beyond the clearing, where she was being chased by a wildly laughing Mrs. Grace, two barefoot maenads framed for a moment by the bole and branches of the pine, beyond them the dull-silver glint of the bay and the sky a deep unvarying matt blue all the way down to the horizon.


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