Alternating between vignettes of John Banville's own past, and present-day historical explorations of the city, Time Pieces is a vivid evocation of childhood and memory, that 'bright abyss' in which 'time's alchemy works'.
For the young John Banville, Dublin was a place of enchantment and yearning. Each year, on his birthday - the 8th of December, Feast of the Immaculate Conception - he and his mother would journey by train to the capital city, passing frosted pink fields at dawn, to arrive at Westland Row and the beginning of a day's adventures that included much-anticipated trips to Clery's and the Palm Beach ice-cream parlour.
The aspiring writer first came to live in the city when he was eighteen. In a once grand but now dilapidated flat in Upper Mount Street, he wrote and dreamed and hoped. Yeats's daughter Anne, a painter, lived in the flat below; Patrick Kavanagh would often take a rest from a hard day's drinking, sitting on the steps of the house and glaring at the Dolmen Press offices on the other side of the street; and one fine summer afternoon there was the enchanting sight of poet Thomas Kinsella, in his Civil Service suit, strolling down Baggot Street enjoying an ice-cream cone.
It was a cold time, for society and for the individual - one the writer would later explore through the famed Benjamin Black protagonist Quirke - but underneath the seeming permafrost the thaw was setting in, and Ireland was beginning to change.
Alternating between vignettes of Banville's own past, and present-day historical explorations of the city, TIME PIECES is a vivid evocation of childhood and memory - that 'bright abyss' in which 'time's alchemy works' - and a tender and powerful ode to a formative time and place for the artist as a young man.
Accompanied by stunning images of the city by photographer Paul Joyce.
Banville is the greatest living master of simile and metaphor in prose, and Time Pieces is a trove of arresting imagery, from the lushly poetic to the luridly absurd ... [An] utterly delightful book' - Irish Times
John Banville's self-portrait evokes the hard-hearted, heartbroken anti-heroes of his fiction. Although Time Pieces excavates some of Dublin's key moments and periods ... its real speciality is in capturing the more abstract romance of city life. Banville is an expert in melancholy urban phenomena: the pleasures of dilapidation and overgrown parklands, the long-gone, gaudy shops of one's past that blaze in the memory - Financial Times
A beautifully crafted, carefully shaped work of art ... [Banville] has written beautifully - in Time Pieces no less than in his extraordinary novels - Sunday Business Post
It's the author's love letter to a city he first encountered on annual excursions with his mother from the Wexford of his birth and upbringing. And, as such, it's extraordinarily evocative of a not-quite-vanished metropolis ... it's in his vivid reminiscences of Dublin in the 1950s and early 1960s that the book finds its true heart - Irish Independent
A moving paean to the city that helped shape the artist as a young man - Image magazine
[an] intriguing blend of reminiscence and quirky guide to some of the capital's enduring treasures - Irish Independent
Handsomely published ... for those who know Dublin, or dream of it from afar, there will be much in Time Pieces that is delightful. Rich with lived experience and the pining for things past, in more sense than one it is a book John Banville has been waiting his whole life to write - Sunday Times
John Banville treats the business of memoir with the elegance of a practised flaneur, weaving into his personal tale a portrait of the Dublin he discovered on boyhood visits from Wexford in the 1950s ... Dublin's streets, squares, gardens and gateways, beautifully photographed by Paul Joyce, reflect the writer's own lost past, early experiences and first love. But the surprise, perhaps, is in the recurrent plangent note of regret or self-criticism. This is what makes Time Pieces an oddly affecting book - TLS