Snow: A Novel

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John Banville on Pen Names and Pretension

At The New York Times, Irish novelist John Banville discusses his latest mystery, Snow, and his decision to do away with his pseudonym, Benjamin Black. “I’m one of those writers who dislikes and is shamed by his own work. I am in pursuit of perfection and, as we know, perfection is far beyond the reach of our puny powers,” he says. “But when I found that I liked the Blacks, I said to myself, ‘Why do I need this rascal anyway?’ So I shut him in a room with a pistol, a phial of sleeping pills and a bottle of Scotch, and that was the end of him. I’ve never been ashamed or felt I had to defend what Black wrote. His books are works of craftsmanship written honestly and without pretension.”

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