Long Lankin

John Banville. Vintage, $12.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-345-80706-9
Two boys hide out in the woods, a girl meets a mysterious man on a bicycle, and siblings sneak down to the sea to look at a dead body in this slim collection of early stories from Banville (Booker Prize winner for The Sea). Nearly every story features two or three characters in a single scenario and the stripped-down prose often means to emphasize what's happening between the lines. Common themes arise: death, innocence lost, and insanity are prominently featured. The latter is the centerpiece of Long Lankin's best (and final) story, "De Rerum Natura", which begins with an old man seeing acrobats in his garden. Over the course of the story, the language frays and reality blurs, so much so that it begins to affect the old man's son and his wife, who are trying to take him away to a home. Often the stories are too brief and too restrained to make more than a passing impression, but this story represents how good Long Lankin is at its best: when the writing lets go of its rigidity and opacity and Banville loosens up, he possesses a rare command of language. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/2013
Release date: 07/02/2013
Hardcover - 189 pages - 978-0-436-03260-8
Paperback - 94 pages - 978-0-904011-72-2
Open Ebook - 67 pages - 978-0-345-80664-2
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