The Infinities (Borzoi Books) - John Banville I was drawn to this book because of the plot. But I quickly found that this book is not meant to be read for the plot, but for the prose. The story is simple. A dying, brilliant mathematician is surrounded by his family, associates and the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes on the last day of his life. Arguably, there’s an enigmatic visit by Pan as well. There’s an internal reference, as well as a mention by Banville in an interview, that the book loosely reflects playwright Heinrich von Kleist's story of Amphitryon.

One review I saw described Banville as being “drunk on Joyce.” An excellent turn of phrase. The creative parallel universe Banville eruditely hints at remains an unexplored backdrop. Unhindered by any story arc or plot, Banville free falls into details of one day. Oftentimes, it feels as if his joy in wordsmithing a sentence outweighs any purpose to how the sentence fits into the story.

Given the meandering and ornate structure, it’s easy to read into the story what one may want. A phrase or use of a particular pronoun can entice you to see something you believe is profound. Usually, I enjoy such abstraction. But in this particular case, frustration at the failure to take advantage of such an innovative setting detracted from my desire to add meaning that may not be there. I didn’t get a sense that Banville was actually attempting to successfully convey an idea. He seemed comfortable hiding behind the abstraction. By the last fifty pages, it became overwhelming self-indulgent.