The Untouchable by John Banville. Banville’s writing is so beautiful – dense and full of shocks of recognition for the reader. He exposes with compassion and precision the lies we tell ourselves to justify our actions. His protagonist is a troubled middle-aged man, who was a double agent in the Cold War, looking back with a kind of longing on a life full of self-deceptions and less than moral actions. I am astounded by Banville’s ability to evoke sensual experiences and moments of memory.
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black. Benjamin Black is John Banville’s pen name for his detective novels set in the 1950’s starring Quirke, a gloomy Irish pathologist. I love that he writes detective stories under a pseudonym, and does it so well. Why do we need this spurious line between “good” and “popular” fiction, or “low” and “high” art? He does both perfectly.
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. I read Trollope’s books again and again, and I particularly love this one. It is a satirical, grand, sweeping expose of the disastrous consequences of greed in London in the Victorian era. It involves a massive scam, and follows both perpetrators and victims, although at times those roles get reversed. It’s full of mad, bad characters, and fine, hilarious observations of human foolishness.
Poynton has held eight solo exhibitions at Stevenson – most recently Picnic in Cape Town (2016).