'If you're interested in Dublin, or if you're interested in the novelist John Banville, or if you're interested in radiantly superb sentences about whatever - I'm all three - then Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir is a book you'll not be able to put down' The Guardian
'A trove of arresting imagery, from the lushly poetic to the luridly absurd ... utterly delightful' Irish Times
'Delicious ... Banville's soarings, like a hawk's, are both wild and comprehensive, taking in everything and imagining more' New York Times
For the young John Banville, Dublin was a place of enchantment and yearning. Each year, on his birthday - the 8th of December, Feast of the Immaculate Conception - he and his mother would journey by train to the capital city, passing frosted pink fields at dawn, to arrive at Westland Row and the beginning of a day's adventures that included much-anticipated trips to Clery's and the Palm Beach ice-cream parlour.
The aspiring writer first came to live in the city when he was eighteen. In a once grand but now dilapidated flat in Upper Mount Street, he wrote and dreamed and hoped.
It was a cold time, for society and for the individual - one the writer would later explore through the famed Benjamin Black protagonist Quirke - but underneath the seeming permafrost a thaw was setting in, and Ireland was beginning to change.
Alternating between vignettes of Banville's own past, and present-day historical explorations of the city, Time Pieces is a vivid evocation of childhood and memory - that 'bright abyss' in which 'time's alchemy works' - and a tender and powerful ode to a formative time and place for the artist as a young man.
Accompanied by images of the city by photographer Paul Joyce.
In this subtle, elegant memoir, Irish novelist and screenwriter Banville (Mrs. Osmond) explores three overlapping Dublins: the contemporary city, the city of history, and the city he remembers. Despite spending centuries as a provincial backwater in the British Empire, Dublin produced a pantheon of great artists, among them Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Flann O'Brien, Jonathan Swift, Orson Welles (who made his stage debut in Dublin's Gate Theatre), Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats. As a bookish youth in Wexford, Banville viewed Dublin as the locus of all sophistication, excitement, and meaning. In 1964 at age 18, he moved there and found his place in the bohemian milieu he'd admired from afar. In Banville's survey of 21st-century Dublin, every shift in perspective triggers meditations on the myriad ways the city has shaped his long life. The real unity of the narrative rests in the remarkable interplay between text and image (preceding a two-page photo of the Shelbourne Hotel's Horseshoe Bar, Banville describes it "as dimly lit and pleasingly louche today as it was then"). For much of the journey, a mysterious friend named Cicero accompanies Banville, a conceit adding yet another layer to a quietly remarkable work. Yet despite this intricate structure, Banville's wit and humor make this book pass far too quickly. Dublin could not have asked for a more perceptive observer, or a more enchanting portrait.