- Portis, Charles — True Grit (215 pages)
- Simpson, Joe — Touching the Void (210 pages)
- Bardin, John Franklin — The Last of Philip Banter (207 pages)
Page count: 632.
The Last of Philip Banter was recently recommended to me. I don't generally go for the crime genre, but this seemed interesting.
John Franklin Bardin is a little known novelist who between 1946 and 1948 produced three very well regarded novels that are probably best categorized as crime novels but are perhaps more accurately psychological studies. The Last of Philip Banter is the second of the three and deals with perceptions of reality and sanity.
The premise really is quite interesting. A person arrives at work to find a neatly typed and stacked manuscript on his desk titled "Confession" and bearing his name. The confession describes in great detail events that are yet to happen. Our protagonist has no recollection of having written this, though he cannot rule out the fact as he cannot remember anything from the previous night. One by one and uncannilly, the events described in the confession begin to come true, unnerving the protagonist and sending him careening down a slippery psychological slope. Is he crazy, is the confession and the ensuing events a product of subconscious auto-suggestion prompted by dissatisfaction with life, or is he being framed?
While a lot of Bardin's writing seems quaint and old-fashioned, the scenario and the manner in which Bardin unfolds the plot is fascinating. I think this would make a great movie, along the lines of a Shutter Island. A movie was made, but it is obscure enough that I was not able to download it.
I look forward to investigating at least the first of these three books, which deals with a murder possibly committed by leprechauns in New York, or by a psychotic who believes he sees leprechauns.