Long Lankin

Long Lankin

by John Banville
     
 

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A collection of short stories from the early years of Man Booker Prize-winning author John Banville’s career, Long Lankin explores the passionate emotions—fear, jealousy, desire—that course beneath the surface of everyday life. From a couple at risk of being torn apart by the allure of wealth to an old man’s descent into nature, the

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Overview

A collection of short stories from the early years of Man Booker Prize-winning author John Banville’s career, Long Lankin explores the passionate emotions—fear, jealousy, desire—that course beneath the surface of everyday life. From a couple at risk of being torn apart by the allure of wealth to an old man’s descent into nature, the tales in this collection showcase the talents that launched Banville onto the literary scene. Offering a unique insight into the mind of “one of the great living masters of English-language prose” (Los Angeles Times), these nine haunting sketches stand alone as canny observations on the turbulence of the human condition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
From the Publisher
Praise for John Banville and Long Lankin:

“Banville is that rare writer who can pack all five senses into a declarative sentence.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Banville is the most intelligent and stylish novelist currently at work.”
The Observer (London)

“The stories move unerringly with a nervous, almost aggressive speed, creating taut emotional situations. . . . Thoroughly Irish and thoroughly individual.”
Sunday Telegraph (London)

“Banville has the skill, ambition and learning to stand at the end of the great tradition of modernist writers.”
Times Literary Supplement (London)

“If Banville is capable of writing an unmemorable sentence, he has successfully concealed the evidence.”
The Washington Post
 
“Banville is a master at capturing the most fleeting memory or excruciating twinge of self-awareness with riveting accuracy.”
People
 
“Prodigiously gifted. He cannot write an unpolished phrase, so we read him slowly, relishing the stream of pleasures he affords. Everything in Banville’s books is alive. Bleakly elegant, he is a writer’s writer . . . who can conjure with the poetry of people and places.”
The Independent (London)
 
“Banville is the heir to Proust, via Nabokov.”
The Daily Beast
 
“A glorious stylist whose prose holds sustaining pleasures, both large and small.” —Newsday
 
“Banville’s mastery of language is an intense delight.”
Evening Standard (London)

Kirkus Reviews
First American publication of a collection of very early, very short stories by the Irish master of the literary novel. Since a slightly different version of this volume was issued in Britain in 1970, Banville has earned much greater renown as a prize-winning novelist (The Sea, 2005, etc.) and has subsequently won a popular readership through a series of detective novels as Benjamin Black (Christine Falls, 2007, etc.). The seeds of both branches of his fiction can be found in these elliptical, elemental stories. Though there are only hints of the more lyrical prose that would subsequently dazzle admirers (while seeming overwritten to detractors), the sea and the solitude it affords were plainly a preoccupation early on. And there's some mystery at the heart of practically every one of these stories--an unexplained relationship or situation, an inscrutable murder (in more than one story), a dilemma not completely understood yet requiring escape. The Banville of his early 20s could write dialogue like this from "Lovers": "We'll be free. We're young and the world is wide. We'll be free." Yet he already knows that such freedom is an illusion, an empty promise. And more often, his characters find themselves lamenting the passing of old ways, such as the stranger who seems oddly familiar to a son mourning his father in "A Death": "There is a new brand of despair in the world. The old ways are dying, and the old religion too. When people turn their backs on God what can they expect?" Other stories have similarly elemental titles--"Sanctuary," "Summer Voices," "Island"--and similar obsessions with transition and loss. "Look it at," says the drunken host at a party of friends he doesn't like. "The new Ireland. Sitting around at the end of a party wondering why we're not happy. Trying to find what it is we've lost." Formative work by an author who would later revisit what's best in these stories through longer and more ambitious fiction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345807069
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/02/2013
Series:
Vintage International Original Series
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
753,954
Product dimensions:
5.42(w) x 7.88(h) x 0.36(d)

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Meet the Author

John Banville, the author of sixteen novels, has been the recipient of the Man Booker Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. He lives in Dublin.

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