So far, I think John Banville's The Blue Guitar is the best book of the fall season. I'm surprised it wasn't included in this year's Booker Prize, as I think the book is simply masterful (far superior to books like The Green Road and The Illuminations). Banville's story here is nothing new -- a pompous man prone to petty thieving steals his friend's wife -- but the way in which Banville renders this narrative is absolutely exquisite. His sentences are delectable, made for rolling over the tongue like tasting a fine wine.
I wrote a lengthy review of The Blue Guitar over at Run Spot Run. Please go take a look!
Now, as a reviewer I get scads of galleys and I think it's a particularly telling moment when I find a book that I want to upgrade to a hardcover for my collection. I reached out to Knopf to see if Banville had pre-signed any first editions and sure enough, he had. I was told the only copies he signed were sent out west to The Elliot Bay Book Company and one other store in California I've since forgotten. Strangely, this ended up not being completely true... after I placed by order with the exceptionally accommodating Elliot Bay Book Company, I saw a copy sitting in the window of Crawford Doyle, up the street from my office. Oh well!
Banville's signature appears on a tipped in page, like below:
It's really a spectacularly good book and I encourage all you literary-minded readers to seek it out.
Jiri Karasek ze Lvovic, A Gothic Soul