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The Book of Evidence Paperback – Mar 5 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan; 4 edition (March 5 2010)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0330371878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330371872
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Comparisons with Camus's The Stranger and Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment are not lightly made, but spring irresistibly to mind after finishing Banville's dazzling novel, which was short-listed for Britain's Booker Award and won Ireland's very rich Guinness Peat Aviation Award, adjudicated by Graham Greene. Banville, who has written three previous books but is not widely known here, is literary editor of the Irish Times. His protagonist and first-person narrator is Frederick Montgomery, a former scientist who has taken to drifting aimlessly through life, keenly self-conscious, a brilliant observer of himself and his surroundings, but with no coherent moral center. In the course of a pathetically absurd robbery attempt--he is trying to steal a painting, with which he has become obsessed, from a neighbor of his mother--he brutally and pointlessly kills a maidservant. He tells his story as he sits in jail awaiting his trial, imagining it as a courtroom statement. But is his account--hallucinatory, spellbinding, full of the poetry and pity of life--true? In response to that question from a police inspector, the novel's last chilling line: "All of it. None of it. Only the shame." Banville's style, which is spare yet richly eloquent, and his extraordinary psychological penetration, are what lift his novel to a level of comparison with the greatest writers of crime and guilt. It is difficult to imagine a reader who would not find The Book of Evidence both terrifying and moving.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Freddie Montgomery is a schizophrenic 38-year-old ex-scientist haunting dingy pubs who, nonetheless, ponders life and his illness via this superb novelized murder trial "confession." After study in America, Freddie returns to Ireland to find that his disowning mother has sold what he believes is part of his inheritance from his late father, some paintings that include an old Dutch master of a woman he thinks regards him with caring, benevolent authority. As he steals it, he murders a maid who catches him in the act. His lawyer advises him to plead manslaughter to quash evidence. Instead, the brooding, contradictory Freddie writes the "book of evidence" that we read. How much of it is true, how much sick fancy? Freddie makes us think, too.
- Kenneth Mintz, formerly with Bayonne P.L., N.J.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Format: Paperback
Freddie Montgomery killed because he could. This one liner economically but eloquently nails the issue at the heart of John Banville's splendid novel, "The Book Of Evidence". The horror that Freddie's act of murder evokes is not so much that he killed but he killed because it was expedient for his purpose and because he failed to glimpse even the first sign of humanity in the victim he so cruelly and senselessly batters to death as he makes away with the loot. If for one moment he did, the dastardly act would have been avoided. The novel, written as a confession to us readers, suggests that it took his arrest and conviction for him to recognize the meaning of his action. Punishment is justified and meted out because he broke faith with society and is ostracized for it. The moral bankruptcy that Banville depicts in Freddie isn't a fantasy. It is an unspoken condition a society finds itself in, even as its inhabitants go about pursuing their goals with no larger purpose than to attain them. The amorality at the heart of Freddie's story is never more pointedly suggested than in the chilling scene of a menage a trois signifying an unholy alliance among the threesome (Freddie, Daphne and Anna) early in the plot. This scene is unforgettable for its sense of foreboding and evil. Banville has written several superb novels including the underated "The Untouchable". His literary craft is truly awesome. Simply astounding. There is no better writer of contemporary fiction today. Read "The Book Of Evidence". It's wonderfully entertaining and insightful. You won't regret it.
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Format: Paperback
"My Lord, when you ask me to tell the court in my own words, this is what I shall say." Thus begins "The Book of Evidence," the sardonic, self-pitying, occasionally witty, and ultimately unreliable narrative of Frederick Charles St. John Vanderveld Montgomery (a/k/a Freddie Montgomery). I say "unreliable" quite consciously, because Freddie Montgomery says as much throughout the novel, another in a long line of remarkable fictions from John Banville, perhaps Ireland's finest living author. As Freddie relates at the end of his tale, "I thought of trying to publish this, my testimony. But no. I have asked Inspector Haslet to put it into my file, with the other, official fictions . . . [H]ow much of it is true? All of it. None of it. Only the shame."
And what is Freddie Montgomery's story? An educated and brilliant academic, he married a young woman, Daphne, whom he met while teaching at Berkeley. He left academia for a dissolute life on a Mediterranean island. He became indebted there to apparently dark and unseemly characters, left his wife and young child behind, and returned to his family home in Ireland to obtain enough money to repay his debts. While in Ireland, he committed a brutal and seemingly inexplicable murder, fled the scene of his crime in a kind of "Lost Weekend" of drunken binging and obsession with his dark deed, and, ultimately, is apprehended and imprisoned. He writes the dark, powerful, obsessive interior monologue of "The Book of Evidence" while sitting in prison awaiting his trial.
The reader is never quite certain what to make of Freddie Montgomery. He is, indeed, a disturbed and disturbing narrator, someone who kills an innocent woman for no apparent reason, with chilling sang-froid.
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Format: Paperback
Patients who are truly mentally ill have a disadvantage. They've lost their point of reference in what you or I would call "reality." So, as a psychiatrist, when I approach a patient like this, I know how to get them to tell me the truth. Simply...I engage them in conversation. The more we talk, and the more I listen to what they have to say...the more *I* become their reference point. In essence, I just "walk" along with them. Step by step, by not disputing their "facts" or showing undue concern over anything they say--in truth, by my showing genuine interest in them as a person--we move closer and closer to the core of their experience. Eventually, they will speak plainly, not realizing how out of the mainstream what they're telling me really is. Herein is the starting point of *all* therapy. Or, as in the book at hand, herein is the basis of criminal prosecution.
Banville's book is a startling confession of a murderer. As he rambles--as he loses track of the mainstream---he gets closer and closer to an accurate description of what really occured. I suspect, perhaps, that some of the other Amazon reviewers were a bit "let down" by the ultimate revelation. You don't think that's what Banville intended? The killing is finally portrayed as utterly banal...stupid...pointless. The confessor has *no* clue as to the seriousness of what he's done. He is completely locked within his own perspective. This is about as far as you can get from the seductive "media violence" everyone complains so much about. And yet...why is it so much less compelling? Well, you can struggle with that on your own as you work your way through THE BOOK OF EVIDENCE.
Banville is one of Ireland's top contemporary writers.
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