Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Year in Books 2010 - The Infinities

Well I guess it had to happen. My thoughts on the books I read tend to be mainly positive which as I've chosen to buy them I guess is no surprise. Also I used to finish everything I started, no matter how unenjoyable, I'd grit my teeth and plough on to the end. Then I happened to read Moby Dick followed by Blood Guts and High School ( a triumph of cult following over anything resembling enjoyment) and thought life was just too short. Now if I'm really not enjoying a book then I just stop and leave it on the tube hoping someone will find it who likes it more than I did.

How the Infinites by John Banville survived the tube drop I'm still not sure. The Infinities tell the story of a family gathering for the impending death of patriarch. Bottled up emotions are given a good old shake by the fact that Hermes, Zeus and Pan have also popped in to watch the unfolding events and make a bit of mischief. A good idea but done a lot better by Marie Phillips in Gods Behaving Badly.

John Banville is no doubt a good writer ( he's won a Booker for goodness sakes) but this one just passed me by, The jacket describes it as "over flowing with bawdy humour" and a "salacious delight" . People cleverer than I see it as "darkly comic", "full of dark humour" and a "heady delight" that "radiates happiness" again making me thing the broadsheet reviewers have a very strange sense of humour ... the book didn't manage to prod a smile out of me.

None of the characters really rings true and a couple do prompt me to wonder what point they serve. One arrives , mopes around , is taken over by Zeus to plant a kiss on someone, is slapped and leaves.

This is all a real shame as the book starts with real promise as it captures the conflicting emotions of the wife , son , daughter and daughter in law as the father lies upstairs in a coma. There are some great passages , in fact individual scenes work well. For me it was when you put them together and looked at the story as a whole that it just didn't work for me.

Sad to end the year on a downer ... but hey tomorrow it is top 5 time for books and the lps

You can buy The Infinities here

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