Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ancient Light-John Banville

Ancient Light

John Banville

Knopf, Oct 2 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307957054

Sexagenarian Alex Cleave muses back fifty years to the love of his life. Fifteen years old, he fell in love with his best friend Billy Gray’s mother. Alex even ponders searching for the octogenarian woman assuming she is still alive to see if they still have it even though his wife Lydia might object in spite of their emotional distance since their daughter Cass died. Her death haunts and taunts Alex who desperately wants to know the identity of the man Cass spoke of just before she died. As he mentally struggles with his customized memories of the two females he cherishes, his dead acting career revises with the movie role of Axel Vander, who ironically called him on the day Cass died. As the movie begins to anchor in Alex’s mind what happened to Cass, he goes deeper inside his fond memories of Mrs. Gray and Cass.

Ancient Light is an insightful leisurely paced look at memory as the protagonist’s brain looks back over a lifetime filling vacuums with creative disinformation and misinformation that seems right because it fits well with the core information that really happened to Alex as he seems to recall. Character driven and filled with metafiction irony, John Banville provides a profound tale of realistic Paradise Lost and memory-altered Paradise Regained.

Harriet Klausner

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