Famous Quotes & Sayings

John Banville Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by John Banville.

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Famous Quotes By John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1120219

Everything in the room seemed turned away from me in sullen resistance, averthing itself from my unwelcome return. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 952066

Death is such a strange thing. One minute you're here and then just gone. You'd think there would be an anteroom, a place where you could be visited before you go. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1123703

It is a true pleasure to live in a century in which such great events take place, provided that one can take shelter in some little corner and watch the play in comfort. (attributed to N. Poussin) — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 174451

We artists love to talk tough, but we're just as sentimental as everyone else when it comes down to it. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1987367

I've been wrestling with Kafka since I was an adolescent. I think he's a great aphorist, a great letter writer, a great diarist, a great short story writer, and a great novelist - I'd put novelist last. — John Banville

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I sometimes think that I might be slightly autistic. There might be a syndrome that hasn't been named. I don't seem to see the world in the same way that most people I know see it. They don't seem to be baffled by it. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 2158564

Why does the past seem so magical, so fraught, so luminous? At the time it was just, ugh, another boring bloody day. But, to look back on, it's a day full of miracles and light and extraordinary events. Why is this? What process do we apply to the past, to give it this vividness? I don't know. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 200943

I had never liked, even feared a little, this wild reach of marsh and mud flats where everything seemed turned away from the land, looking off desperately toward the horizon as if in mute search for a sign of rescue. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 987138

In order really to write one has to sink deep into the self and become lost there. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 428586

You will remember this when all else fades, this moment, here, together, by this well. There will be certain days, and certain nights, you'll feel my presence near you, hear my voice. You'll think you have imagined it and yet, inside you, you will catch an answering cry. On April evenings, when the rain has ceased, your heart will shake, you'll weep for nothing, pine for what's not there. For you, this life will never be enough, there will forever be an emptiness, where once the god was all in all in you. — John Banville

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The novel is resilient, and so are novelists. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1097985

The novel is a kind of elephant. But I like to make that elephant dance on a quarter. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 98449

Yes, another April; in a way, in this story, it is always April. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1504407

He had scores to settle with the world, and she, at that moment, was world enough for him. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 731485

The trouble with you, Vic," he said, "is that you think of the world as a sort of huge museum with too many visitors allowed in. — John Banville

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I live in Dublin, God knows why. There are greatly more congenial places I could have settled in - Italy, France, Manhattan - but I like the climate here, and Irish light seems to be essential for me and for my writing. — John Banville

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I'm a hopeless 19th-century romantic. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 515131

Lately I had been finding it hard to understand the simplest things people said to me, as if what they were speaking in were a form of language I did not recognise; I would know the words but could not assemble them into sense. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 2037335

And indeed nothing had happened, a momentous nothing, just another of the great world's shrugs of indifference. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 920395

Yet even without saying, each knew what the other was thinking, and, more acutely, what the other was feeling
this is a further effect of our shared sorrow, this empathy, this mournful telepathy. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 81723

This, I told myself, this is the way I shall be condemned to pass my days, turning over words, stray lines, fragments of memory, to see what might be lurking underneath them, as if they were so many flat stones, while I steadily faded. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 420916

... a thief's heart is an impetuous organ, and while inwardly he throbs for absolution, at the same time he can't keep from bragging. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1690741

Although it was autumn and not summer the dark-gold sunlight and the inky shadows, long and slender in the shape of felled cypresses, were the same, and there was the same sense of everything drenched and jewelled and the same ultramarine glitter on the sea. I felt inexplicably lightened; it was as if the evening, in all the drench and drip of its fallacious pathos, had temporarily taken over from me the burden of grieving. — John Banville

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This is the only way another creature can be known: on the surface, that's where there is depth. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1363515

Time and age have brought not wisdom, as they are supposed to do, but confusion, and a broadening incomprehension, each year laying down another ring of nesience. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1292617

He liked to bewilder his pupils, it was a form of tyranny. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 2180031

We did our best, Anna and I. We forgave each other for all we were not. — John Banville

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I'd given up Catholicism in my teens but something of it stays with me. I try to create the perfect sentence - that's as close to godliness as I can get. — John Banville

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Of the things we fashioned for them that they might be comforted, dawn is the one that works. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1103119

What is my purpose here? I may say, I just sat down to write, but I am not deceived. I have never done anything in my life that did not have a purpose, usually hidden, sometimes even from myself. — John Banville

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It's great people still care about books, and it's great you can still fashion a life from literature. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 87217

It was not just the drink, though, that was making me happy, but the tenderness of things, the simple goodness of the world. This sunset, for instance, how lavishly it was laid on, the clouds, the light on the sea, that heartbreaking, blue-green distance, laid on, all of it, as if to console some lost suffering waybarer. I have never really got used to being on this earth. Somethings I think our presence here is due to a cosmic blunder, that we were meant for another planet altogether, with other arrangements, and other laws, and other, grimmer skies. I try to imagine it, our true place, off on the far side of the galaxy, whirling and whirling. And the ones who were meant for here, are they out there, baffled and homesick, like us? No, they would have become extinct long ago. How could they survive, these gentle earthlings, in a world that was meant to contain us? — John Banville

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, her mouth working mutely like the valve of an undersea creature — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 178151

Sleep is uncanny, I have always found it so, a nightly dress-rehearsal for being dead. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 205081

I think I am becoming my own ghost. — John Banville

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When you have once seen the chaos, you must make some thing to set between yourself and that terrible sight; and so you make a mirror, thinking that it shall be reflected the reality of the world; but then you understand that the mirror reflects only appearances, and that reality is somewhere else, off behind the mirror; and then you remember that behind the mirror there is only the chaos. — John Banville

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Her own mother had died when Anna was twelve and since then father and daughter had faced the world like a pair of nineteenth-century adventurers, a riverboat gambler, say, and his alibi girl. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 360392

Writing keeps me at my desk, constantly trying to write a perfect sentence. It is a great privilege to make one's living from writing sentences. The sentence is the greatest invention of civilization. To sit all day long assembling these extraordinary strings of words is a marvelous thing ...
For me, a line has to sing before it does anything else. The great thrill is when a sentence that starts out being completely plain suddenly begins to sing, rising far above itself and above any expectation I might have had for it. That's what keeps me going on those dark December days when I think about how I could be living instead of writing. — John Banville

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There is something about gin, the tang in it of the deep wildwood, perhaps, that always makes me think of twilight and mists and dead maidens. Tonight it tinkled in my mouth like secret laughter. — John Banville

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This is the way it is with me, always looking in or looking out, a chilly pane of glass between me and a remote and longed-for world. — John Banville

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We carry the dead with us only until we die too, and then it is we who are borne along for a little while, and then our bearers in their turn drop, and so on into the unimaginable generations. — John Banville

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I would have made her a part of me. If I could, I would have had a notch cut in my already aging side and a slip of her, my young rose, inserted there and lashed to me with twine. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 584711

And incredulity, that too was a large part of being happy. I mean that euphoric inability fully to believe in one's own simple luck. There I was, suddenly, with a girl in my arms, figuratively, at least, doing the things that grown-ups did, holding her hand, and kissing her in the dark, and, when the picture had ended, standing aside, clearing my throat in grave politeness, to allow her to pass ahead of me under the heavy curtain and through the doorway out into the rain-washed sunlight of the summer evening. I was myself and at the same time someone else, someone completely other, completely new. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 604897

When I was a child and heard about angels, I was both frightened and fascinated by the thought of these enormous, invisible presences in our midst. I conceived of them not as white-robed androgynes with yellow locks and thick gold wings, which was how my friend Matty Wilson had described them to me
Matty was the predecessor of all sorts of arcane knowledge
but as big, dark, blundering men, massive in their weightlessness, given to pranks and ponderous play, who might knock you over, or break you in half, without meaning to. When a child from Miss Molyneaux's infant school in Carrickdrum fell under the hoofs of a dray-horse one day and was trampled to death, I, a watchful six year old, knew who was to blame; I pictured his guardian angel standing over the child's crushed form with his big hands helplessly extended, not sure whether to be contrite or to laugh. — John Banville

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Do other people, remembering their parents, feel, as I do, a sense of having inadvertently done a small though significant, irreversible wrong? — John Banville

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By the way, leafing through my dictionary I am struck by the poverty of language when it comes to naming or describing badness. Evil, wickedness, mischief, these words imply an agency, the conscious or at least active doing of wrong. They do not signify the bad in its inert, neutral, self-sustaining state. Then there are the adjectives: dreadful, heinous, execrable, vile, and so on. They are not so much as descriptive as judgmental. They carry a weight of censure mingled with fear. Is this not a queer state of affairs? It makes me wonder. I ask myself if perhaps the thing itself - badness - does not exist at all, if these strangely vague and imprecise words are only a kind of ruse, a kind of elaborate cover for the fact that nothing is there. Or perhaps words are an attempt to make it be there? Or, again, perhaps there is something, but the words invented it. Such considerations make me feel dizzy, as if a hole had opened briefly in the world. — John Banville

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When fans of mine meet me, I can see the disappointment in their eyes. Every artist knows of this phenomenon. — John Banville

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Writers are just like other people, except slightly more obsessed. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 725063

All one wants to do is make a small, finished, polished, burnished, beautiful object ... I mean, that's all one wants to do. One has nothing to say about the world, or society, or morals or politics or anything else. One just wants to get the damn thing done, you know? Kafka had it right when he said that the artist is the man who has nothing to say. It's true. You get the thing done, but you don't actually have anything to communicate, apart from the object itself. — John Banville

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Throughout the 1960s and 1970s devoted Beckett readers greeted each successively shorter volume from the master with a mixture of awe and apprehensiveness; it was like watching a great mathematician wielding an infinitesimal calculus, his equations approaching nearer and still nearer to the null point. — John Banville

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I had a sudden image of myself as a sort of large dark simian something slumped there at the table, or not a something but a nothing, rather, a hole in the room, a palpable absence, a darkness visible. — John Banville

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Dostoevsky is such a bad writer it is hard to take him seriously as a novelist, though he is a wonderful philosopher. — John Banville

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Remember what April was like when we were young, that sense of liquid rushing and the wind taking blue scoops out of the air and the birds beside themselves in the budding trees? — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 858029

Enormous morning, ponderous, meticulous; gray light streaking each bare branch, each single twig, along one side, making another tree, of glassy veins. — John Banville

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We imagine that we remember things as they were, while in fact all we carry into the future are fragments which reconstruct a wholly illusory past. That first death we witness will always be a murmur of voices down a corridor and a clock falling silent in the darkened room, the end of love is forever two spent cigarettes in a saucer and a white door closing. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 893185

Oh, by the way, the plot: it almost slipped my mind. Charlie French bought my mother's pictures cheap and sold them dear to Binkie Behrens, then bought them cheap from Binkie and sold them on to Max Molyneaux. Something like that. Does it matter? Dark deeds, dark deeds. Enough. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 921501

From earliest days I wanted to be someone else. The injunction nosce te ipsum had an ashen taste on my tongue from the first time a teacher enjoined me to repeat it after him. I knew myself, all too well, and did not like what I knew. Again, I must qualify. It was not what I was that I disliked, I mean the singular, essential me - although I grant that even the notion of an essential, singular self is problematic - but the congeries of affects, inclinations, received ideas, class tics, that my birth and upbringing had bestowed on me in place of a personality. In place of, yes. I never had a personality, not in the way that others have, or think they have. I was always a distinct no-one, whose fiercest wish was to be an indistinct someone, I know what I mean. — John Banville

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Inhabiting a place that could not be home, they were like actors compelled to play themselves. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 998665

Abruptly then it began to rain, I heard the swish of it behind me and turned in time to see it coming fast along the lane like a blown curtain, then it was against my face, a vehement chill glassy drenching. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1025189

At thee seaside all is narrow horizontals, the world reduced to a few long straight lines pressed between earth and sky. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1031501

Fictional characters are made of words, not flesh; they do not have free will, they do not exercise volition. They are easily born, and as easily killed off. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1058532

How I envy writers who can work on aeroplanes or in hotel rooms. On the run I can produce an article or a book review, or even a film script, but for fiction I must have my own desk, my own wall with my own postcards pinned to it, and my own window not to look out of. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1068732

It is hard for anyone who has not given himself wholeheartedly to a belief (and I say again, Miss V., that is how it is: you give yourself to it, it does not fall upon you like sanctifying grace from Heaven) to appreciate how the believer's conscious mind can separate itself into many compartments containing many, conflicting, dogmas. These are not sealed compartments; they are like the cells of a battery (I think this is how a battery works), over which the electrical charge plays, leaping from one cell to another, gathering force and direction as it goes. You put in the acid of world-historical necessity and the distilled water of pure theory and connect up your points and with a flash and a shudder the patched-together monster of commitment, sutures straining and ape brow clenched, rises in jerky slow motion from Dr. Diabolo's operating table. — John Banville

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No two things the same, the equals sign a scandal. — John Banville

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To take possession of a city of which you are not a native you must first fall in love there. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1096445

What I was afraid of was my own grief, the weight of it, the ineluctable corrosive force of it, and the stark awareness I had of being, for the first time in my life, entirely alone, a Crusoe shipwrecked and stranded in the limitless wastes of a boundless and indifferent ocean. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1101189

For memory, we use our imagination. We take a few strands of real time and carry them with us, then like an oyster we create a pearl around them. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1155380

I think I'm less the writer than I'm the written. — John Banville

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I shall strip away layer after layer of grime
the toffee-colored varnish and caked soot left by a lifetime of dissembling
until I come to the very thing itself and know it for what it is. My soul. My self. — John Banville

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Halfway up the drive there was
God these tedious details.
Halfway up there was a ... — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1210809

I never went to university. I'm self-educated. I didn't go because I was too impatient, too arrogant. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1249024

The past, I mean the real past, matters less than we pretend. — John Banville

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When I started writing, I was a great rationalist and believed I was absolutely in control. But the older one gets, the more confused, and for an artist I think that is quite a good thing: you allow in more of your instinctual self; your dreams, fantasies and memories. It's richer, in a way. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1278059

The telephone ringing gave me a dreadful start. I have never got used to this machine, the way it crouches so malevolently, ready to start clamouring for attention when you least expect it, like a mad baby. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1386479

Poetry is that magic which consists in awakening sensations with the help of a combination of sounds ... that sorcery by which ideas are necessarily communicated to us, in a definite way, by words which nevertheless do not express them. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1453469

How is it that in childhood everything new that caught my interest had an aura of the uncanny, since according to all the authorities the uncanny is not some new thing but a thing known returning in a different form, become a revenant? — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1459856

Happiness was different in childhood. It was so much then a matter simply of accumulation, of taking things - new experiences, new emotions - and applying them like so many polished tiles to what would someday be the marvellously finished pavilion of the self. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1482836

Yes, this is what I thought adulthood would be, a kind of long indian summer, a state of tranquility, of calm incuriousness, with nothing left of the barely bearable raw immediacy of childhood, all the things solved that had puzzled me when I was small, all mysteries settled, all questions answered, and the moments dripping away, unnoticed almost, drip by golden drip, toward the final, almost unnoticed, quietus. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1522451

I was thinking of Anna. I make myself think of her, I do it as an exercise. She is lodged in me like a knife and yet I am beginning to forget her. Already the image of her that I hold in my head is fraying, bits of pigments, flakes of gold leaf, are chipping off. Will the entire canvas be empty one day? I have come to realise how little I knew her, I mean how shallowly I knew her, how ineptly. I do not blame myself for this. Perhaps I should. Was I too lazy, too inattentive, too self-absorbed? Yes, all of those things, and yet I cannot think it is a matter of blame, this forgetting, this not-having-known. I fancy, rather, that I expected too much, in the way of knowing. I know so little of myself, how should I think to know another? — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1555614

With crime fiction, you have to write a half-dozen before they catch on. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1573382

How flat all sounds are at the seaside, flat and yet emphatic, like the sound of gunshots heard at a distance. — John Banville

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The world is not real for me until it has been pushed through the mesh of language. — John Banville

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It seems to me a work of art is the evidence offered by a fantastically observant witness — John Banville

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With the crime novels, it's delightful to have protagonists I can revisit in book after book. It's like having a fictitious family. — John Banville

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In my world, there are no simple questions, and precious few answers of any kind. If you are going to write about me, you must resign yourself to that. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1798936

Together they will spend a happy hour seated side by side ... , while Ivy's tender hand guides Duffy's as he traces out laboriously, in pencil, over and over until he has them off pat, the magic letters of his name. More than the wedding itself, that little ceremony there under the lamp, all silent save for the soft scratching of graphite on paper, will mark the true beginning of their life together. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1861109

And anyway, who's to say that what we see when we're drunk is not reality, and the sober world a bleared phantasmagoria — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1921983

He knows that after him everything will continue on much as before, except that there will be a minuscule absence, a barely detective gap in the so-called grand scheme, one unit fewer now. Or not even that, not even an empty space where he once was, for all will rush immediately to fill that vacuum. Pft. Gone. Recollections of him will remain in the minds of others for a while, but presently those others too will die and his few relics with them. And then all will be dark. — John Banville

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The past beats inside me like a second heart. — John Banville

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The secret of survival is a defective imagination. — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 1985757

It has always seemed to me that one of the more deplorable aspects of dying, aside from the terror, pain and filth, is the fact that when I am gone there will be no one here to register the world in just the way that I do. Don't misunderstand me. I have no illusions about my significance in the torrid scheme of things. Others will register other versions of the world, countless billions of them, a welter of worlds particular each to each, but the one that I shall have made merely by my brief presence in it will be lost for ever. — John Banville

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I don't see how English as we use it in Europe can be revivified. It's like Latin must have been in about A.D. 300, tired and used up. All one can do is press very hard stylistically to make it glow. — John Banville

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Whom now would I love, and who would love me? — John Banville

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I want my art to make people look at the world in a new way. I mean, what's the point of the art of writing if it doesn't take you into the mysterious? — John Banville

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I shall be delivered, like a noble closing speech. I shall be, in a word, said. — John Banville

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All art at a certain level is entertainment. We go to a tragedy by Sophocles to be entertained. — John Banville

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Given the world that he created, it would be an impiety against God to believe in him. — John Banville

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When he was young, the lesson learned from his mother, as much by cuffs as caresses, was that love is action
what you do, not what you feel
but perhaps, he thinks now, it was a false lesson, and that love is something else altogether, something he knows nothing of. He sees it, this love, hovering like the Paraclete above the heads of a fig-leafed Cranach couple, streaming divine grace down upon them in burning rays. Where was his soul when this pentecostal fire was falling from the sky? — John Banville

John Banville Quotes 2195841

What age is she now, twenty something. I'm not sure. She is very bright, quite the bluestocking. Not beautiful, however, I admitted that to myself long ago. I cannot pretend this is not a disappointment, for I had hoped that she would be another Anna. She is too tall and stark, her rusty hair is coarse and untameable and stand out around her freckled face in an unbecoming manner, and when she smiles she shows her upper gums, glistening and whitely pink. With those spindly legs and big bum, that hair, the long neck especially ... Yet she is brave and makes the best of herself and of the world. She has the rueful, grimly humorous, clomping way to her that is common to so many ungainly girls. ... Dear Claire, my sweet girl. — John Banville

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The Booker Prize is a big, popular prize for big, popular books, and that's the way it should be. — John Banville