Friday, August 1, 2014

The Book of Evidence

When the cover of a book describes it as "an astonishing, disturbing little novel that might have been coughed up from hell" you do start to wonder what you're getting into.

But for the most part, The Book of Evidence is a psychological study that looks at evil and how society addresses it.  And this look - accomplished by living inside the head of a nut case who ends up committing a murder - makes for an uncomfortable read.  You realize very quickly that the narrator is a pompous self-centered delusional windbag and you don't want to spend time with him but that's the only way to get to the end.

All that notwithstanding, this is a great book.  The author can run circles around the English language. He has the greatest descriptions of light and mood.  And questioning that inner dead space in all of us.  Haven't we all wanted to stop playing by the rules of society at some point?  Well, Freddie just does, and unsurprisingly, things don't go well for him.  And then he tries to figure out how to make it up and - dare we say, shows a glimmer of humanity after all?

Final call:

Some folks compare Banville to Nabokov because of the unlikeable first person narrators. Banville is far more approachable - give him a chance.

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