By John Banville
Vintage, $12.95, 100 pages
John Banville has been writing fiction for over 40 years and those years of experience have served him well, earning him a Booker Prize in 2005, among other awards. Long Lankin, a collection of nine stories, takes readers back to the very beginning of Banville’s writing career. Originally released in 1970 this collection displays the early talent that paved the way for Banville’s continuing success.
Each of the stories collected are excellent in their own right, and together they paint a beautiful picture of Banville’s exceptional talent. His sparse dialogue and careful descriptions build a foundation for stories focused on the intricacies and turbulence of humanity. One of the greatest examples is a story title “Lovers” in which a young couple is preparing to leave their small hometown to make a new life. A few days before leaving they stop to visit the young man’s father in the hospital. The father, dying and alone, reveals he has left his company to his son. This revelation strains the couple’s plans and the story ends on an uncertain note.
Banville’s observations and portrayals of human nature are the real star in this collection. For anyone interested in experiencing perfect writing and characterization, look no further than this excellent Vintage edition of Long Lankin by John Banville.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser