Thursday, September 4, 2008

Juggling Fragments

Michael took from his pocket a chipped blue building block, a marble and a rubber ball. He began to juggle. At first it went clumsily, he dropped the ball, hit himself on the nose with the block, but then all abruptly changed, a rhythm appeared, one could almost hear it, like the airy beat of a bird's wing, and in his hands he spun a trembling pale blue hoop of light.*

*from John Banville's 1973 novel Birchwood, which I have been reading this week with a mixture of enjoyment and exasperation. Half the time the author seems to be imagining a novel of his own invention out of his own head, and then the work is lively enough. But the other half of the time it is more like he is channeling Tristram Shandy or Great Expectations or otherwise engaging in that sort of literary ventriloquism that makes for tedium.