The Book of Evidence

The Book of Evidence

by John Banville


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John Banville’s stunning powers of mimicry are brilliantly on display in this engrossing novel, the darkly compelling confession of an improbable murderer.

Freddie Montgomery is a highly cultured man, a husband and father living the life of a dissolute exile on a Mediterranean island. When a debt comes due and his wife and child are held as collateral, he returns to Ireland to secure funds. That pursuit leads to murder. And here is his attempt to present evidence, not of his innocence, but of his life, of the events that lead to the murder he committed because he could. Like a hero out of Nabokov or Camus, Montgomery is a chillingly articulate, self-aware, and amoral being, whose humanity is painfully on display.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375725234
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/12/2001
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 348,427
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He has been the recipient of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1976), the Guardian Fiction Prize (1981), the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award (1989), and the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction (1997). He has been both shortlisted for the Booker Prize (1989) and awarded the Man Booker Prize (2005) as well as nominated for the Man Booker International Prize (2007). Other awards include the Franz Kafka Prize (2011), the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (2013), and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature (2014). He lives in Dublin.

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The Book of Evidence 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
samatoha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simenon meets Alber Camus meets Nabokov.less good than the later "The untouchable" - the dark humour is not always working, and it seems a bit shallow in parts, but still a very satisfying work that manage to be both entertaining and smart.Banville's philosophy about memory and identity will develop as more serious in his later work,especially in "the sea".
SanctiSpiritus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A novel of introspection, and monologue; the ending will jar you from your seat.
liehtzu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As always with Banville the writing is exquisite and catches beautifully human frailties and venality. Never an author to use one word when two will do and not shy at challenging and expanding a reader¿s vocabulary (how about minatory, flocculent, acedic, stravaig anyone?) Mr. Banville is a writer to stimulate and intrigue. The very complexity of language perfectly comments the complexity of our hero, a man with serious feet of clay. In drawing this man the author gives the character greater self awareness than most of us possess (or care to possess) and in doing so makes one flinch from time to time. At the same time Freddie is peculiarly blind in the way only enormous egos can be. A wonderful read and part of the evolving oeuvre of Banville. If you like this then know he only gets better.
RememberRemember on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
splendid, language alive, crisp with no excesses. Banville dids you into the inner workings of a complex mind suprisingly accessible. The sounds and colours crowd the space and paints a masterful story. Banville almost have an unrestricted access to the common soul and thought. What is remarkable is how he expresses it at times slow, almost frozen and naturally fluid at others. Economical and poetic in his prose, Grand, difficult to immitate. Eddie.
poplin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Book of Evidence brought to mind Albert Camus' The Stranger, for the tone as much as for the plot. Banville's Freddie reaches a very different conclusion about the state of life (and his life in particular) than does Camus' Meursault, but his journey bears more than a few similarities. Both are estranged (if only practically speaking) from their family; both murder seemingly without reason or cause. Freddie differs from Meursault in that his book of evidence is presented not as proof of his crime, as one might initially suppose, but as proof of his life. He is working to affirm his life, his existence, his being. Freddie's crime was a desperate attempt to stake his existence in a life he felt increasingly alienated from. Banville also invokes Nabokov's Lolita by creating a character whom you should absolutely despise, but somehow cannot. When Freddie isn't murdering helpless, dumb servant girls, he's creating serious trouble for his family and generally being arrogant and aloof. Yet there is something in him that is so absurdly human that you can't help feel a twinge of sympathy and--even worse!--empathy for him. At the end, Banville has created a character who is uncomfortably easy to identify with, and that is a tremendous feat in itself.
mattviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Book of Evidence is an ex-scientist's confession of his gruesome but motiveless murder. Thirty-eight-year-old Freddie Montgomery returned to Ireland (from some Mediterranean island) hoping to solicit funds to pay off his debts. When his mother told him that she had got rid of the pictures his deceased father left behind, Freddie paid a visit to the Behrens who might have bought the pictures from his mother. At Behrens' Whitewater House, Freddie, with a ball of twine and a roll of wrapping paper, stole a painting that for him had become an obsession-Portrait of a Woman with Gloves. Never would Freddie expect what started as a casual escapade ended up in a gruesome homicide when a maid caught him red-handed.John Banville bears the tour de force of storytelling that evokes Dostoyevsky. Freddie Montgomery showed no remorse for his crime, unlike Raskolnikov (the protagonist of Crime and Punishment), he had no motive to kill. But when he could go back in time, Freddie would still choose to kill simply because he had no choice. Freddie left marks of careful premeditation of his stealing but not murder. Banville intermingled the events leading to the atrocious act with Freddie's dreams, dreams that were not some tumble of events but states of feelings, moods, pangs, and emotions. Freddie somehow lost track of the perception of time-so much so that somehow time was warped. Places (like he reminisced on his Berkeley days), people (how he met Daphne through her roommate), and events (annecdotes of his father and childhood) became like movie stills so isolated that he had no way to tell if they could be real.The inebriating prose reminds me of Nabokov (especially Lolita). Freddie simply indulged in a hazy, disheartening, and morbid sensation. The prose was full of his gripes-about his distaste for the world, resentment toward his mother, disdain for the attorney (...a life spent poking in the crevices of other people's nasty little tragedies...p.73). At one point he felt he had committed the murder a long time ago. The prose exerted a mounting sense of panic and unease that infect the readers.
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