FICTION:JOHN BANVILLE is a man of many books, Booker books among them. And most of his reviews, it has been claimed, are eulogies. He has many enemies too, he thinks, because of a diatribe of his on Ian McEwan’s Saturday, and these enemies have no doubt produced hostile reviews of his work.
But on book pages and in journals the dominant note has at this point been more and more favourable, if not congratulatory. Seamus Heaney speaks strikingly of his “mischievous, mortally serious way”, Adam Phillips starts a sentence: “No one since Proust . . .” Others say that “everything interests him”, that he is “sublime”, a “lord of language”, a “writer’s writer”. He can certainly be called a reviewer’s writer.