RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhen I tell you that Roddy Doyle’s new novel, Love, is about two 50-ish men talking well-oiled talk in a pub, you’ll say you’ve heard that one before. You haven’t. When I tell you that the novel isn’t so much about what happens, or happened once upon a time, as it is about the mystically inaccurate nature of language, you’ll say you learned that lesson long ago. You didn’t, at least not the way Doyle spins it. When I tell you that in spite of these familiarities, you’ll wind up caring about a bond that seems to rely mainly on words, you’ll say you won’t. You will ... There’s a lot of Joyce in this novel — not the layered density of Ulysses or Finnegans Wake, but the layered simplicity of Dubliners, in the straightforward yet incantatory sentences, and in the loading of simple words ... In Love, some of the best language is silence ... Maybe a theme hiding in this novel is that men are not as awful at communicating as we, and women, say we are. There may be as much truth in awkwardness and evasiveness as there is in openness and clarity — the truth latent in floundering, in not being able to say what we mean (must we?) because we haven’t the foggiest idea what we mean.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewTo Banville, an apostle of the ordinary, the deep appeal of city life is that here the ordinary may be made magical ... Pity the fool who’s reading this book to get a clear and orderly picture of Dublin. But oh, what a topographical map has been drawn by Paul Joyce’s evocative photographs and Banville’s observant eye ... Banville’s soarings, like a hawk’s, are both wild and comprehensive, taking in everything and imagining more. One can’t distinguish his descriptions from the things described, the dancer from the dance ... The better memoirs tend not to be principally about the suffering of the author but rather about what the author has noticed in his or her life, what is cherished or abhorred — often about pure information worth imparting. The better memoirs are the more generous, looking outside the self. I don’t think it’s an accident that the photographs of Banville in this book are shot from behind, showing him looking away.