Saturday, November 30, 2013

Review: "The Untouchable" by John Banville

I have always had a mixed reaction to the books of John Banville. I think he is a great writer, one of the best around easily, but sometimes, even in the books of his I have liked, I have found him, dry, overly literate and just plain boring at times. All of his books are narrated by a single person, usually male, who is not always reliable and obsessed with the past and their memory. This technique works well when the conflict that goes along with it is at least interesting, like his best book, The Sea, and The Book of Evidence, which is a book that I have changed my views on since reading it. But if it isn’t, the books falls to pieces and becomes needlessly difficult, such as Shroud, and the one I recently just read, The Untouchable, what I can easily say is the worst book I have read by Banville. The story concerning the ousting of Victor Maskell, and art critic and intelligence agent, as a spy for the Russians, is completely forgettable, and it is hard for me to conjure any scenes that I liked in it even though I just finished it yesterday. The writing is good as always, and I like how he makes the connection between Victor’s outing as a spy, to his outing as homosexual, making both his true professional and personal self two aspects of life that he can never reveal and indulge in. but as a whole through its 368 long pages, this book was a chore I couldn’t wait to get finished. I will allow an author I enjoy reading a few slip-ups, and this is Banville’s first. If you haven’t read any of his books yet, I highly suggest you do, but I cannot recommend this one.
Rating: 2/5

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