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Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  397 ratings  ·  95 reviews

'If you're interested in Dublin, or if you're interested in the novelist John Banville, or if you're interested in radiantly superb sentences about whatever - I'm all three - then Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir is a book you'll not be able to put down' The Guardian

'A trove of arresting imagery, from the lushly poetic to the luridly absurd ... utterly delightful' Irish T

Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published October 20th 2016 by Hachette Books Ireland
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  397 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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I'm always fascinated by the links and coincidences between my reading life and my real life, so when John Banville mentioned early in this book that there are no such things as coincidences, I wondered about his wisdom. Admittedly, he didn't say that this was his own opinion but that it was a Borges quote relayed to him by someone else. As it turns out, I now think that Banville believes firmly in coincidence. Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir seems to me to be a book that is quite shot through with ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it

Born in Wexford, a small town that in Banville’s youth was both more isolated and more of a rural community, Dublin fascinated him, captivating him in his youth. The annual trips, by train, for him and his family, fell around the date of his birthday, and their purpose centered around Christmas shopping, Christmas lights and a chance to be a part of something bigger, grander. In the 1950’s, I expect that the memories of the differences from his everyday life would be even more remarkable, the dr
Banville is our best.
He was not born in Dublin,but in Wexford like Colm Tobin.
Banville s memoir is a personal reflection on Dublin it’s streets and architectural heritage and the literary characters dead and alive that Banville has encountered.And much more.
Banvilles childhood train journeys to Dublin are recalled.
I know all these streets and stones and pubs and parks.I worked as a young lawyer on Mount Street with its elegant Georgian streetscape.
Banvilles memoir captivates.
The style reminds me
Lewis Weinstein
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John Banville is a wonderful writer ... We met him in Key West (and also later in Dublin) and talked with him about writing ... he said something then I try to remember every time I write: make every single word as good as it can be ... every single word ... great advice for any writer

The "pieces" in this memoir are soft and gentle and often moving ... Banville's description of places he cares about are simply superb.
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am certain I loved this book because much of it explores a Dublin that is on the verge of disappearing. But Banville is assuring in that he uncovers hidden parts of the city that have survived. I loved the pre-Celtic Tiger Dublin before it became jammed with tourists brought in on cheap flights to binge drink in Temple Bar, and rove the streets in huge bands. In summer, hoards of European teens who come to learn English cram buses, and sidewalks, jostling everyone in their vicinity, and crowdi ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
“The Present is where we live, while the past is where we dream. But what transmutation must the present go through in order to become the past?”

Memory is a dishonest narrator. If we cannot control the present let’s reinvent our past. John Banville writes about the Dublin where he has resided since adulthood. But having grown up in the provinces, his early memories of Dublin are infused with Christmasy-wonder. He confesses that he observed nothing of his village, the coastal Wexford-- and for mu
Diane S ☔
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
Review soon.
Kathie Harper
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A sentimental journey of sorts or a coming of age story in a city that the author gravitated towards for most of his life? I admit he grabbed me right away as he described his annual birthday trip on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to Dublin from County Wexford where he lived the rest of the year. His child's perspective is authentic right down to the impatience of waiting for his mother and sisters to finish their Christmas shopping while he couldn't wait to get his ice crea ...more
Marilyn Shea
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I hope that, if you were to read this memoir, you would find it in a hard cover version because the book itself, the weight of it, the sturdy pages and wonderful photographs, will remind you why actual books that you can hold in your hands are essential. This memoir, a tour of the author's beloved city of Dublin is slow and written at a walking pace. The author takes the time to trace the history of the buildings and the people who shaped Dublin throughout the centuries. He adds memories of even ...more
Mary Monks hatch
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For one who loves Dublin, every page of this book is total joy. For those not so familiar with the city, it will bring delightful insight into what makes the city so special: the rich history, and the stories that lurk everywhere. Beautifully written by the great John Banville, it exudes affection for the city, as well as informing and entertaining. It is a handsome book, too, beautifully illustrated with superb photographs by Paul Joyce.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir by John Banville skims through Banville's own history, in bits and pieces, and Dublin's history, also in bits and pieces. This is book that feels dashed off, cribbed in part from more thoroughly researched sources, and yet it is well-written and with passages recounting Banville's life in Dublin it acquires a certain pleasing authority nonetheless.

I came away from the book with the impression that much of Dublin has been mangled, particularly Georgian Dublin, and yet
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars for me, because I was unable to enjoy reading this hardback book published in small font. I use reading glasses and had to add magnifying glass! A book I had so looked forward to became an irritant - so frustrating. Oh well. I am pretty close in age to Banville.
Lovely pictures included, charming musings, informative details of Dublin architecture, remembrances from youth with sharp honesty and references including Dublin's writers, actors, artists.
Detachment appears to be a thing in hi
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
This is an excellent memoir, with nice photos and anecdotes, and lovely writing. I liked how Banville situated his story within the context of other writers from his part of Ireland, drawing in the current events that helped shape his story without turning his book into just another history of Ireland (not that I dislike histories of Ireland). It is also fun sometimes to see how good novelists tell their own personal stories. I have not read any of his novels yet, but if he writes as well in fic ...more
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book! Labelled as a memoir, I was expecting to read about Banville'S life but I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was being led around Dublin by Banville and his friend Cicero. I enjoyed walking the streets of my hometown with different eyes and learning more about the city itself. The photographs are also beautiful and evocative. Unfortunately the appendixes and pages of image credits and references lulled me into thinking there was more left of the book than there ac ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I wasn't charmed by Banville's novel, The Sea, I found this memoir very pleasing. His personal experience of Dublin is informed by his love of the city and his knowledge of its past. Excellent photos enhance the reading experience and are essential for those who haven't spent time there. For those who know the city, Banville's memoir will bring back memories. A lovely book.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author (whose novels I have never read) gives a literary and historical walking tour -memoir of Dublin. Since Dublin is porbalby my favorite city in the world, I loved the trip.
Partly charming, partly irritating.

Banville strolls through memories of Dublin, and I follow along, smiling appreciatively as he tells of a private park, the gate of which is unlocked by “an enormous iron key, big and heavy enough to bludgeon to death Professor Plum in the parlour.”

He’s really good with personal descriptions. A local character is “beaded, bearded and fearsomely unbarbered.” Another gentleman is “tall, spare and sandy-haired, with a limp that made him seem to be poling himself a
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
It's not as well written as his novels or the Benjamin Black series of mysteries. There's an air of sentimental nostalgia, looking back on his life. The photographs are wonderful. I enjoyed reading about and seeing photos of places I have visited in Dublin.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Really, one of the most appealing memoirs I've ever read. Anyone who loves Dublin will be charmed. Or what a great way to discover the best view of Ireland in this lifetime. Highly recommended, annd an absolutely wonderful read!
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: places
3.5 stars. I’m sure I would’ve gotten more out of this if I’d spent more time in Dublin than a couple of days 20+ years ago.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Now I want to go walk the streets of Dublin with this book in my hand!
Alan Newman
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Elegant paean to Old Dublin by one of its great writers.
Not really a memoir of the author but of the author’s relationship to Dublin, full of anecdote and snippets of Irish history. Delightful
Daniel Kukwa
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
It's not going to make a huge amount of sense for anyone not familiar with Dublin. But if you are, this is a delightful, lyrical, wistful look at a disappearing past, both personal and public. The writing style helps to make this an absolutely effortless read. I just wish there were more pictures to accompany the beautiful memories.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: own
3.5 stars. I read this before my trip to Ireland (I've been before). It was good, a nice book to read if you've maybe already been to Dublin, but want to discover something new or a refresher course. You also find out quite a bit about the author. I liked the small anecdotes of his life too (especially the stolen library book and what followed). The photos are beautiful, although not always well-placed.
Would recommend to read before visiting the city. It's actually a very slim book and reads fas
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is physically heavy, with its wonderful paper, and gorgeous photographs throughout. I liked the trajectory the author lays out like a carpet. Less interesting was the Dublin history, which normally would have flowed, but didn’t for me
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Banville’s novel, “The Sea” and loved it, especially his thoughts on time. The book is billed as a memoir but is more of an odd reflection of his experiences in Dublin, the recollections of the Dublin literary scene, and a travel book about the sights and sounds of historical Dublin. We recently visited Dublin and wished that we had such a guide to help us away from the tourist tracks. I will be sure to reread this before I visit Dublin again. He is a superb writer who makes a travel narr ...more
George Siehl
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A newspaper review of Time Pieces highlighted the description of Dublin's brickwork buildings, which I had been taken with on my visit there, and some of the humor included, another certain lure. Author Banville, writer of the Dublin based Benjamin Black crime novels was unknown to me. Nonetheless he proved a charming and informative guide to Dublin in this book.

Banville introduces us to people, famous or noteworthy; to places of interest, and to some of the history that haunts the city. His peo
“I recall so many trivial things, and forget so many very momentous ones.”

“Time Pieces” is an amble through the past of Dublin and Banville's memories. It weaves together an homage to the city’s parks, canals, pubs, and stately Georgian architecture with personal moments recalled from Banville’s life.
Wm Hardy
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Writes like he’s a friend of mine and we enjoy the same things.......He reminded me of the greatest short story ever written—Hemingway, of course—guaranteed to destroy emotionally anyone over 30–called “For Sale”. ....Only six words long, eh?
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I always enjoy Banville and this is a travelogue around Dublin. It makes one want to do a pub crawl in Dublin.
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Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a reminiscence of growing up ...more
“Where did this absurd rule come from, and why did we so meekly obey it? Under a tyrannical regime--and the Ireland of those days was a spiritual tyranny--the populace becomes so cowed that it does the state's work for it voluntarily. And as every tyrant knows, a people's own self-censorship is the kind that works best. In the 1990s, when revelations of clerical sexual abuse and the Catholic Church's cover-ups put an end to its hegemony almost overnight, my generation scratched its head and asked, in voices trembling with incredulity, 'How could we let them get away with it for so long?' But the question, of course, contained its own answer: We let them get away with it. Power is more often surrendered than seized.” 1 likes
“Let us say, the present is where we live, while the past is where we dream.” 1 likes
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