24 July 2008

The Untouchable, John Banville

The Untouchable. John Banville. Interesting, very interesting. The protagonist is a spy; an old spy who has been found out. I didn't enjoy the lifestyles. Maybe there are people who do live so hedonistic ally and survive. But I don't know any.
It took me a while to adjust to the writing style of this book. It might be the influence of goopy romances that clouded my mind. It might just be the style of the book. My first difficulty with the book was placing it in a time period. It was written in the 90s, but I eventually worked out, by adding up dates and ages, it was set in the 70s. That meant reframing my thinking to the 70s social and political scene.
The basic premise is an old guy looking back over his life. His current situation is alluded to rather than described. His assumption is that everyone knows what has happened, so its only mentioned in passing. You gradually pick up though that he was a double agent spying for England and Russia, and he has recently been denounced.
The book is then a description of how he became a spy for England and for Russia and the story of his life. I didn't enjoy it. I think what I struggled with the most is that the man is a stereotypical, sleazy, sex-in-public-toilets, homosexual. Why do people write caricatures instead of characters? Why can't they show a little imagination in developing their characters, instead of relying on trite old stereotypes?
I didn't enjoy this book very much. I give it a 3.

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