All at sea

10 02 2007

The Sea by John Banville

The Sea

2 star

This was, ultimately, a real disappointment. I had expected more (not least because of Booker) and it really did not deliver. The protagonist, Max, returns to source of childhood holiday and major trauma (revealed as a supposedly shocking climax) and agonises about loss etc. But in such a tedious and overblown way. By the time the end finally comes round I felt that only a witnessed genocide would have justified the angst.

I do seem to be rather at odds with the serious critics though (as quoted on Amazon):

The Observer -Paperback of the Week
‘One of the most rewarding and humane novels of recent years’

The Observer -Paperback of the Week
‘What a tremendous guide the phenomenally talented Banville is to the strangeness of ourselves and our journey’

Sunday Times -Paperback Pick of the Week
‘An undeniably important work of fiction, whose soaring Joycean lyricism can take your breath away’

Sunday Times -Paperback Pick of the Week
‘Banville broodingly captures the way the past returns to reclaim the present’

Sunday Telegraph
‘Characteristically Banvillian are its honed and intricately wrought prose style, full of poetical descriptions’

Mark Sanderson, Evening Standard
‘Strenuously elegiac … dazzling poetry’

Sorry, but just too annoyingly over-written with less than interesting characters and narrative inadequate for retaining anyone’s interest.

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