Friday, November 02, 2007

Books: Athena, by John Banville

Banville is just the most amazing magician of the English language. Even when everything else seems to be less interesting, as is the case with the plot in Athena, the very words that pour out of his pen have the power to entrance. I was disappointed by the book as a whole, but all the reading was worth it if for nothing else for the first paragraph. It reminds me of a John Lee Hooker song, all the blues's passion, längtan, knife in the wound, hope beyond hope...
"My love. If words can reach whatever world you may be suffering in, then listen. I have things to tell you. At this muffled end of another year I prowl the sumbre streets of our quarter holding you in my head. I would not have thought it possible to fix a single object so steadily for so long in the mind's violent gaze. You. You."
Or on page 3 "This is what it must be like having a wasting illness, this restlessness, this wearied excitatation, this perpetual shiver in the blood. There are moments -well, I do not wish to melodramatise, but there are moments, at the twin poles of dusk and dawn especially, when I think I might die of the loss of you, might simply forget myself in my anguish and agitation and step blindly off the edge of the earth and be gone for good. ... The rain falls through me silently, like a shower of neutrinos".