Names are given, not earned. Some names are never grown into, and some barely foretell a persons talent. John Banville, acclaimed Irish novelist and author of Silver Swan, fits into the second category. Cheeky bloke that he is, Banville upturned the baptismal hierarchy and claimed a beefier epithet: Benjamin Black. We say thats a name worthy of a switchblade and a prime-time whore.
Like the name, the authors prose style is distinctive. He writes in a markedly cold and precise manner but streaks his stories with dark humor and philosophical digressions. Blacks writing is kindred to that of Vladimir Nabokovs in that language often takes primacy over plot. His aim, he says, is to imbue his writing with the kind of denseness and thickness that poetry has.
For the non-initiated, Silver Swan his newest crime novel and the follow-up to Christine Falls takes place in 1950s Dublin and traces the dizzying reality of a pathologist whos pulled into a murderous set of circumstances.
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Sun., March 9, 1 p.m., 2008