Banville on Books: “I think popular fiction should present a moral character…”

So it’s World Book Day, and all the kids around here have gone off to school in character costume from their favourite book from Girl Online to The Pirates Next Door. On foot of that I’ve put a few of my favourite Children’s books in a separate section of the Slugger Bookstore.

My own favourite book of the last year would be Paul Burgess’ White Church, Black Mountain. Other highlights are Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate (which I picked up through Henry Farrell’s great essay on the dark web recently); Robert Caro’s four part biography Lydon B Johnson; Roddy Doyle’s Brilliant.

But if you get a chance, have a listen to the Guardian Books interview with John Banville on one of my favourite authors of all time, Raymond Chandler.

Banville himself has just written on from Chandler’s canon in the form of The Black Eyed Blonde, and he talks well on the whole business of the sourness of voice and limitation of vision in American fiction since Watergate.

Chandler’s one of the few authors whose whole output I’ve managed to read. Totally noir, and redolent of coffee, whiskey, melancholy and tension.

He talks about the ‘essential decency’ or ‘the knight riding through the plague ridden city’ reminiscent of Bryan Delaney St Patrick’s day appeal to Ireland “to be extremely vigilant about the stories we choose to tell ourselves”.

The whole thing is worth listening to the whole way through, even if you haven’t read Chandler.

And if you haven’t you really should.

Feel free to share your own favorites…

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