After slogging through Burroughs bombastic novel, I longed for a work that would deliver me back to the joy of reading and The Sea did just that.
A man deals with grief by returning to the haunts of his childhood and reveals how he has and has not grown from days past. Interspersed between the recent past, the long ago past and the current day, Mr. Banville takes us along as we follow the steps and missteps of Max Morden as he tries and often fails, to reach a level of self-awareness.
Landlady at The Cedars, a vacation destination from Max’s childhood, Miss Vavasour is at times aloof while also seeming perceptive. We learn she and Max have much in common.
Max Morden could not be described as a grieving widow, although he is, as his thoughts and actions are mostly self-serving, as most humans are. It is only that he is not quite so good at concealing that truth.
A Cedars tenant, Colonel Blunden, is a sad man seeming to await the end of his life without filling his final years with any joy or fuss. Not someone to spend time with if in a blue mood.
Max’s first love, Chloe Grace, is a privileged and bored girl who runs hot and cold with her treatment of her young beau. Her selfishness and brazenness eventually lead to her ruin and sadly takes others along for the descent.
What a little vessel of sadness we are, sailing in this muffled silence through the autumn dark.
Perhaps all of life is no more than a long preparation for the leaving of it.
We carry the dead with us only until we die too, and then it is we who are borne along for a little while, and then our bearers in their turn drop, and so on into the unimaginable generations.
I had that sense of anxious euphoria, of happy, helpless toppling, which the one who knows he will have to do the loving always feels, at the precipitous outset. For even at such a tender age I knew that there is always a lover and a loved, and knew which one, in this case, I would be.
I felt an extraneous kindredship to Mr. Banville after reading the following, and won’t bore anyone with why.
I have always suffered from what I think must be an overly acute awareness of the mingled aromas that emanate from the human concourse.
Perhaps I would embarrass myself with Mr. Banville by such boldness, but I believe he’d be perhaps awkward at the onset, but brilliant and witty at the finale of our tete-a-tete.
My rating for The Sea is an 8 out of 10.
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Next up, James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia…