John Banville: Books of the Year
Passion, savagery, tenderness and faultless technique
The poetry event of 2014 was Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems, by Robin Robertson (Picador), which affords a longer view of this supremely gifted artist. Here is passion, savagery and tenderness, all combined and all controlled within a faultless technique.
Richard Ford’s Let Me Be Frank with You (Bloomsbury) drops in again on the adventures, usually hapless ones, of Ford’s abiding fictional protagonist, Frank Bascombe. As the title indicates, Ford here is in lightsome mood, though there is plenty of rich darkness, too. Frank contemplates, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the stormy road lying before him as he is wafted into old age. But what fun there is to be had along the way!
Dalkey Archive Press is one of the bravest and best of the few remaining independent publishers, and its reissue of Nicholas Fox Weber’s Balthus: A Biography is a major venture. Fox Weber here gives a comprehensive, coolly perceptive and sympathetic portrait of this controversial but undeniably great Polish-French modern artist. A marvellous book.
The Black Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel, by John Banville writing as Benjamin Black, is published by Mantle