Monday, October 09, 2006

When "serious" writers sink so low as to write stories with plots ...

... they write crime novels. Michael Dibdin reviews John Banville's Christine Falls, which Banville wrote under the name Benjamin Black. The review is full of cute (or cutesy) lines such as "Intercourse between the detective story and mainstream fiction is traditionally regarded as one of those things we don't mention, though everyone knows it goes on."

Dibdin makes an especially interesting point about the test Banville set for himself in writing a crime novel: Can he plot?:

"The answer is yes. It's almost impossible to tell someone who hasn't read it what Banville's prizewinning novel The Sea is 'about,' but the problem with Christine Falls is saying anything at all without ruining a compelling novel set in the redolent, boozy, dank, stifling Dublin of the 1950s, a city dominated by a tight-lipped and even more tightly networked mafia made up of a few prominent clans."

So, when "serious" writers want to tell a story, they're not afraid to write a crime novel, even though they do so under an assumed name (unless they're Joyce Carol Oates).

© Peter Rozovsky 2006



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