Birchwood (Vintage International) by John Banville

By John Banville

An early vintage from the guy Booker-prize profitable writer of the ocean. i'm as a result i feel. So begins John Banville’s 1973 novel Birchwood, a singular that facilities round Gabriel Godkin and his go back to his dilapidated family members property. After years away, Gabriel returns to a home packed with thoughts and depression. Delving deep into kinfolk secrets—a chilly father, a tortured mom, an insane grandmother—Gabriel additionally recollects his first encounters with love and loss. straight away a unique of a relatives, of isolation, and of a blighted eire, Birchwood is a striking and complicated tale in regards to the finish of innocence for one boy and his nation, instructed within the brilliantly styled prose of 1 of our such a lot crucial writers.

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Printed in yellowish brown tints, with a white crease aslant it like a bloodless vein, it was of a young girl dressed in white, standing in a garden, one hand resting lightly on the back of a wrought-iron seat. Mama said it was a picture of her as a child, but I could not believe that. Half of the scene was in sunlight, half in shade, and the girl with her eyes closed leaned from the dark into the light smiling blithely, dreamily, as though she were listening to some mysterious music. No, I knew this girl was someone else, a lost child, misplaced in time, and when I returned the picture had inexplicably altered, and would not fit into the new scheme of things, and I destroyed it.

Since she did not understand why the Godkins fought so much, there was nothing she could to do prevent a row, and therefore determined that at least those arrangements she could affect would be impeccable, and Josie, in the kitchen, turned to her saucepans to hide her wry silent laughter when her distraught mistress threw open the door and cried, as if in answer so some unspoken protest, ‘Do it right, Josie, do it right? My father absented himself for most of the day by paying one of his mysterious and frequent visits to the city.

This was a little house, in ruins, with everything gone under lyme grass and thorns but for one end wall with a fireplace halfway up it, and a shattered chimney with the black flue exposed, and over the fireplace a cracked mirror, a miracle of light, staring impassively over the tops of the trees. I never knew who Cotter was, but the name suggested…never mind. He was long gone now, and in what had been his kitchen, among the ferns that flourished there, a woman's pale hands clutched and loosed in languorous spasms a pale white arse bare below a hiked-up shirttail.

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