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Eclipse: A Novel Paperback – February 5, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
-AHeather McCormack, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Virtually all the "action" in this novel takes place inside the head of Alexander Cleave, and the "story," such as it is, emerges at a snail's pace. An actor who has "dried" onstage, Cleave has escaped to his childhood home to come to terms with his inner self and try to deal with his worry about his disturbed daughter Cass, with whom he has had no communication for months. In the midst of a breakdown, he cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality, acting and action. He sees ghosts, spend a great deal of time sleeping and dreaming, and shadows townspeople at random, living their lives vicariously.
His alterego is Quirke, the sloppy caretaker, and his equally untidy daughter Lily. Creatures of the moment, the Quirkes are not at all introspective, indulging their basic desires without thinking about them and living entirely in the commonplace, the ordinary--they buy groceries, do superficial cleaning, go to the pub, read magazines. Only Lily's melancholy, which Cleave also associates with his daughter, suggests that she may have a nascent inner life.
If this sounds dull and abstract, it is, in a way. There is very little plot in the traditional sense, and the events that do occur are filtered through the mind of Cleave, who, though very self-conscious, is not self-aware.Read more ›
Many Authors' work is often explained as being like the work of another writer, the, "it tastes like chicken syndrome". I cannot remember a parallel being drawn to this man's work and there is good reason for this, his writing is as original as one can read despite the millions of volumes that have gone before. He does not have a formulaic style that he follows like many contemporary writers, he is not the sort that fills in the blanks or connects the dots until all is finished or clear. Each of his books is written as the story they tell and the characters that inhabit them require. Moving from one novel to the next a reader could be easily convinced they are reading an altogether different writer.
Much like his work, "The Book Of Evidence", the story unfolds from one primary viewpoint. That the view is from a man enduring a breakdown of sorts is apparent, however Mr. Banville gives us an actor in a state of decay so that we read of a breakdown that is assembled from his 30 years of the characters he has played. Add to this the corporeal players in the actor's life, a cast of others, ghosts, demons, real or conjured, a difficult marriage, and finally a daughter who is handicapped, but perhaps a savant. And the result is a very dense work that gives meaning to the word eclipse whether as one passing another, or the infinite degrees from an eclipse so partial, to darkness absolute and final.Read more ›
The story is moving but unspectacular: Alexander Cleave is an aging actor who has suddenly lost it. For no reason that he can think of he unexpectedly finds himself in cinemas crying his heart out during the afternoon showings and he forgets his lines when he is on stage. He retreats to his late mother's house, hoping to get some peace of mind there and somehow find himself again. But instead of peace and quiet he finds that ghosts and living people have taken up residence with him. He is also beset by memories of his troubled daughter. Hoever, it is not so much the outcome of all this that matters as the processes in Cleave's mind, his dreams, his perplexities, his realizations, his fears.
Banville writes beautifully, exquisitely. His prose is a blend of evocativeness and precision, his metaphors are just right. An example: "Memory is peculiar in the fierce hold with which it will fix the most insignificant-seeming scenes. Whole tracts of my life have fallen away like a cliff in the sea, yet I cling to seeming trivia with pop-eyed tenacity (p. 74)." And another one: "It has always seemed to me a disgrace that the embarrasments of early life should continue to smart throughout adulthood with undiminshed intensity. Is it not enough that our youthful blunders made us cringe at the time, when we were at our tenderest, but must stay with us beyond cure, burn marks ready to flare up painfully at the merest touch (p. 83)?"
This is not a novel of plot and action, but a gently moving, meditative, introspective story, where a lot is left unsaid and merely hinted at and for the reader to find out. Only very good writers can pull that off succesfully. John Banville is such a very good writer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully written with wonderful imagery of places, people and events but a maudlin novel that I found to be bore. Sorry. Read morePublished 16 months ago by BillR.painter
Judging by the cover of the book, the title should be "Thursday Nights at the Hefner Household". Read morePublished on March 19, 2014 by Michael Battaglia
Definitely this is an extraordinary work by an outstanding author. I have one reservation though: you can appreciate the work only if you are tenacious enough to read the whole... Read morePublished on June 16, 2013 by Annie D
Maybe I just wasn't in the mood but I thought this book was vague, poorly structured, self-indulgently verbose with periods of almost hallucinatory rambling. Read morePublished on May 10, 2013 by 415th
Great read. Consumed with Shroud and Ancient Light.
Wonderful, lyrical style - hard to put down.
Would recommend entire series to a book club.
I was attracted to this book after reading The Sea and feeling the need to better understand this obviously talented author. Read morePublished on April 15, 2006 by Donald Mitchell
In the Banville canon so far, this would rate barely as passable. As others have astutely noted, this does not succeed on the merits of its plot and much less its unlikeable... Read morePublished on November 13, 2005 by John L Murphy
John Banville has an almost scary insight into the psychology of the lie. Word by painstaking word, he creates a subtle and nuanced portrait of characters who, despite all evidence... Read morePublished on June 27, 2003 by Christopher Forbes
John Banville is my favorite living novelist and certainly one of the great practitioners of the form of this century. Read morePublished on September 10, 2002 by Mark Sarvas