Take Five with...John Banville

By Administrator RSS Mon, March 12, 2007

John Banville will read tomorrow night (March 13) with Colum McCann at the Central Library at 7:00 p.m. for FREE. His Christine Falls has been called "a triumph, of classical crime fiction, finely, carefully made, not a single false move or wrong word.” Mr. Banville took a few moments to chat with the Free Library Blog and answer some of our most pressing questions.


1. What role have libraries played in your life?


"I grew up in the 1950s in Wexford, a small town in the south-east of Ireland. It was not the most exciting place or time. For me, the local library - Irish libraries at that time were partly funded by the Carnegie Foundation - was a place of stimulation and self-education, and I spent as much time there as I could. I can still smell the smell of the main bookroom - in fact, it was the only bookroom - a combination of floor polish and book dust. I regret to confess that I once stole a book from the shelves, a fine hardback edition of the poems of Dylan Thomas, which I still have. In reparation, I have left a bequest to Wexford Library in my will, in the hope that I shall be forgiven my misdemeanour."


2. What was your favorite childhood book?


"I didn't have a favourite, but many favourites. I loved the Just William series by Richmal Crompton - a perfect portrait of English middle-class life in the 1930s and 1940s - and the comedies of P.G. Wodehouse. And, of course, the usual classics, such as Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe."


3. Who is your favorite fictional character?


"Goodness, you do ask hard questions. If you mean favourite in the sense of the character being likeable I would choose Leopold Bloom, the quintessential decent man. For interest and intelligence, Adrian Leverkuhn in Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus. For efficient gangsterism, Richard Stark's Parker."


4. Who are the three authors you think everyone should be required to read-which books would you start with?


"I don't believe people should be required to read anyone. They should be encouraged to read good writing. For English prose, P.G. Wodehouse is hard to beat. Joyce's Dubliners is perhaps his best book. And in the advanced class, Beckett's late masterpiece, Ill Seen Ill Said, is a moving and beautiful work.


5. If you couldn’t write, what other job would you like to have?


"If I couldn't write I wouldn't be alive. If by some miracle I had been given a choice before I was born, I would have wished to be a composer."

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