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The Blue Guitar: A novel
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2015
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Description

John Banville, the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, now gives us a new novel—at once trenchant, witty, and shattering—about the intricacies of artistic creation, about theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme (“O O O. An absurdity. You could hang me over the door of a pawnshop”), is a painter of some renown and a petty thief who has never before been caught and steals only for pleasure. Both art and the art of thievery have been part of his “endless effort at possession,” but now he’s pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well. Having recognized the “man-killing crevasse” that exists between what he sees and any representation he might make of it, he has stopped painting. And his last act of thievery—the last time he felt its “secret shiver of bliss”—has been discovered. The fact that the purloined possession was the wife of the man who was, perhaps, his best friend has compelled him to run away—from his mistress, his home, his wife; from whatever remains of his impulse to paint; and from a tragedy that has long haunted him—and to sequester himself in the house where he was born. Trying to uncover in himself the answer to how and why things have turned out as they have, excavating memories of family, of places he has called home, and of the way he has apprehended the world around him (“one of my eyes is forever turning towards the world beyond”), Olly reveals the very essence of a man who, in some way, has always been waiting to be rescued from himself.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/15/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385354271
ASIN:
B00TWDWEOQ
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

John Banville. (2015). The Blue Guitar: A novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

John Banville. 2015. The Blue Guitar: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

John Banville, The Blue Guitar: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

John Banville. The Blue Guitar: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:24:17
Date Updated:
Dec 08, 2020 17:40:23
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Apr 12, 2021 20:34:51
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      • bioText: JOHN BANVILLE was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He has been the recipient of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1976), the Guardian Fiction Prize (1981), the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award (1989), and the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction (1997). He has been both short-listed for the Booker Prize (1989) and awarded the Man Booker Prize (2005) as well as nominated for the Man Booker International Prize (2007). Other awards include the Franz Kafka Prize (2011), the Austrian State Prize for European Literature (2013), and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature (2014). He lives in Dublin.

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title
The Blue Guitar
fullDescription

John Banville, the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, now gives us a new novel—at once trenchant, witty, and shattering—about the intricacies of artistic creation, about theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.
Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme (“O O O. An absurdity. You could hang me over the door of a pawnshop”), is a painter of some renown and a petty thief who has never before been caught and steals only for pleasure. Both art and the art of thievery have been part of his “endless effort at possession,” but now he’s pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well. Having recognized the “man-killing crevasse” that exists between what he sees and any representation he might make of it, he has stopped painting. And his last act of thievery—the last time he felt its “secret shiver of bliss”—has been discovered. The fact that the purloined possession was the wife of the man who was, perhaps, his best friend has compelled him to run away—from his mistress, his home, his wife; from whatever remains of his impulse to paint; and from a tragedy that has long haunted him—and to sequester himself in the house where he was born. Trying to uncover in himself the answer to how and why things have turned out as they have, excavating memories of family, of places he has called home, and of the way he has apprehended the world around him (“one of my eyes is forever turning towards the world beyond”), Olly reveals the very essence of a man who, in some way, has always been waiting to be rescued from himself.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Belinda McKeon, The Irish Times
      • content: "Self-depreciating and funny . . . Banville, with this narrator who is messily making it up as he goes along, who is writing a dodgy first draft in front of our eyes, seems at once to be having fun and to be utterly serious. Serious about the demolition work at the heart of this novel, a taking-down of the business of writing a novel, all those strivings, strainings, fakings and foreshortenings--and all the ridiculousness of alliteration-for-effect, with a rake of unlikely character and place names which seem right out of a sinister sort of nursery rhyme--all the artifice that the reader pretends not to see as such, all of the impulses and indulgences (stop alliterating!) with wich the writer expects to get away."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from August 24, 2015
        Readers will hang on to every word written by Man Booker Prize winner Banville (Ancient Light), because he knows their thoughts before they do. Narrating this tale is the curmudgeonly, melancholy, and hapless Olly Orme, who, "pushing fifty and a hundred," is back in the English village of his birth and suffering through a mid-life crisis. A modestly successful "paintster" who gives up painting for existential reasons ("What's the difference between a blimp and a guitar? Any old object serves..."), and a rather philosophical thief for whom the thrill of stealing eventually wanes, Olly stumbles through an affair with Polly, his friend Marcus's companion. When the lovers are found out, Olly runs away to the house where he was born, but is set upon by Polly and dragged to her own family home. A mad-hatter couple of days ensues in which Olly is tortured with cups of tea and English damp—and for the first and last time is caught stealing, in this case a little volume of poetry bound in crimson cloth. When he finally escapes and encounters his sensible wife again, she reveals a secret of her own. Olly muses on each escapade, hilarious until such sadness sets in that no one inside or out of the story seems likely to survive it. And yet, Banville is such a fine architect of sentences—infusing them with wit and yearning—that the plot hardly matters. For what a brilliant navel-gazer Banville is: he creates loop-de-loops of self-absorbed prose that resonate so deeply about the human condition that they never become tiresome. Bon mots fill these pages, every one essential. "What we were sorrowing for was all that would not be, and that kind of vacuum, believe me, will suck in as many tears as you have to shed." If in the end readers believe they know Olly Orme, they will know themselves as well. "Make some lesson out of that, if you will; I haven't the heart."

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from August 1, 2015
        A painter who has quit painting finds his life unraveling as a soured love affair impels him to reassess his past and present and face a possibly bleak future. Oliver Orme's paintings have brought him fame, yet for reasons he tries to explain throughout this painful, artful book, his muse has left him- "one day I woke up and the world was lost to me." He also can't fully explain his lifelong compulsion to steal small things, usually from people he knows. As he approaches age 50, he's living in the town where he grew up and pursuing an affair-with a woman he "pinched from her husband"-in the art studio he still has above his late father's former print shop. The early death of his only child casts a shadow over his marriage that isn't lightened by his infidelity. Orme, a largely unlikable and unreliable narrator, says he's writing in a "thick school jotter" about "my loves, my losses, my paltry sins." At times he makes light of or tries to gloss over his flaws, and he laughs when he mistakenly writes "painster" instead of "painter." But this self-examination, an effort to "learn over again all I had thought I knew but didn't," is far from painless, offering familiar Banville (Ancient Light, 2012, etc.) themes of memory and regret. Still, there is constant humor, of the sly variety for which the author is well-known, and something more: a section where Oliver visits the tatty estate of his lover's eccentric family has elements of Stella Gibbons and P.G. Wodehouse. Then there's the sheer pleasure of the writing. Banville delights in descriptions of people and nature, and here he has the added excuse of writing through a painter's gifted eye. The artist Orme is not a pleasant creation to spend several hours with, but in the hands of this gifted Irish writer, even a potbellied, melancholic petty thief and Lothario offers countless delights.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 1, 2015

        The Man Booker Prize-winning Banville returns with another of his tough-to-like, tough-to-ignore characters, in this case a reasonably successful artist and secret petty thief named Oliver Otway Orme who possesses the self-congratulatory self-deprecation you might expect of someone thus named. Disappointed that his canvases don't capture what he envisions, Oliver has betrayed probably his closest friend by sleeping with his wife and upon discovery feels compelled to flee to the house where he was born to sort through his memories. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, a new novel--at once trenchant, witty, and shattering--about the intricacies of artistic creation and theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.

Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme, is a painter of some renown, and a petty thief who does not steal for profit and has never before been caught. But he's pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well lately. Having recognized the "man-killing crevasse" that exists between what he sees and any representation he might make of it--any attempt to make what he sees his own--he's stopped painting. And his last purloined possession--aquired the last time he felt the "secret shiver of bliss" in thievery--has been discovered. The fact that it was the wife of the man who was, perhaps, his best friend, has compelled him to...
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