Started reading Banville's The Sea last night. His prose is beautiful (I've jotted the page numbers of somany pages where a sentence or a paragraph seemed so absolutely right), but this kind of remembrance and self-examination is usually a tool leading to an unpleasant revelation of some kind. So I can read for 15-20 minutes before the tension gets the better of me, and I put it down for awhile. I remember Danielle saying that Max Mordent was not a particularly likable character and several passages of his childhood behaviors do give pause. Are they foreshadowing of some kind? Thinking about his name - Mordent - I went from morbid to mordant. A mordant is a fixative when dyeing cloth, and as many quilters dye their own cloth these days, I hear it frequently. But mordant can also mean critical or caustic.
The attention to detail is remarkable and beautifully recorded. I should pull passages to quote, but the visual image Banville created of the picnic is so vivid and complete that it will probably remain as the most memorable portion of the book for me. Since the book is so short, I should finish tonight if I can force myself to read the last little bit. At this point, all of the characters are ghosts in several senses of the word.
I did finish. And was surprised and not surprised. The writing is marvelous, Banville's language often a joy, but caring about any of the characters was difficult. I will go back over some passages before returning the book to the library, just to read some of those sentences once again, but although I sympathized with Max at times, not one character claimed much emotional attachment.