Long Lankin, Short Coming
By John Banville
Vintage International Trade Paperback Original, $12.95, 96 pages
Originally published in the UK in 1970, prize winning author John Banville’s first book Long Lankin is finally being published in the U.S., alongside his critically-acclaimed novel Ancient Light.
Long Lankin is a collection of nine short stories about murder, death and relationships. Although the story’s characters differ in gender, age and circumstance, each story’s plot structure is similar. Often, two characters are having a somewhat tense discussion when an interloper arrives with cryptic messages. The interloper is usually a stranger with mischievous intent. Also, each story uses the blurring of reality with the surreal quality of the unexpected, leaving the reader questioning the sanity of some of the characters.
As a debut, it’s a promising piece of work. However, compared to Banville’s mature works, it’s repetitive and plain. Unless you’re a hardcore short story fan, or a Banville aficionado who wants to read all his work, you may want to skip Long Lankin and pick up one of his novels instead.
Reviewed by Sarah Hutchins