The Blue Guitar-John Banville
Oliver Otway Orme is a painter and petty thief who talks us through this affair he had with his friend's wife.
Okay, I get it. We weren't really supposed to like Oliver so that's why this entire novel is so simultaneously self-aggrandizing, self-defacing, egotistical, and self-destructive. But goodness me, this was such a slog for me. I'm amazed I finished-my stubborn streak showed up for the party. I had no emotions to anything that happened in the novel. Oliver can't paint. Okay. Oliver, for no enunciated reason, estranges basically everyone he knows. Okay. Why, he moans, am I this way. I don't particularly care I thought. And the vocabulary. Why? Orme doesn't use a simple word when he can use three of obscure etymological origin. I love complex vocabulary, a lot, but primarily if it adds to the narrative or even enhances a character. In Orme however, it was just another annoying trait.
Listen, I noticed. This is such a well written novel. Banville has essentially created a three dimensional man with numerous flaws, some strengths, and definitely a distinct human being but in the end, I was bored. All this high art lyricism with no substance. "The secret to being a bore is to say everything." Voltaire's quote kept popping into my head. I can see how his writing which is like finely wrought goldsmithing has beguiled Banville's strong fanbase but this novel did not put me into that crowd. There's poetry here but not one that spoke to me despite speaking at me for 272 pages.