My opinion is that someone gave John Banville a ‘Word of the Day’ calender, and he has tried to write a novel using each of these impossibly obscure words (kind of like that time Ernest Vincent Wright wrote an entire novel without using the letter ‘e’, only less awesome). Either that, or he’s looked up every seventh adjective in the thesaurus, and used the synonym with the most consonants.
These aren’t words like ‘discombobulate’ that you can discern from the context (as in, ‘His directions in rapid Bulgarian, left her completely discombobulated’), nor are they words like ‘Machiavellian’ or ‘visceral’ that show up in books all the time, and so I really should look them up and figure out what they actually mean. Banville uses words like ‘proscenium’ and ‘adipose,’ WHICH YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN SEE IN PRINT.
What’s more, he uses them in impossibly and unnecessarily long sentences, like ‘I have always suffered from what I think must be an overly acute awareness of the mingled aromas that emanate from the human concourse.’ Now, in this particularly instance, I know what he’s trying to say, but couldn’t he just say ‘I can smell groups of people really well’? I mean, I’m all for the crafting of the written word and such, but as Joel’s English professor scrawled on the back of one of his papers: ‘Tailor your something illegible. Verbiage something else untidy your syntax.’ i.e. don’t use so many words.
Same goes for you, Banville.
PS. Plotline got somethinged in verbiage. An old man? Revisits his childhood seaside home? To deal with the death of his wife and issues from aforementioned childhood? Something like that. Credit given for making you kind of wonder what had happened, and that’s why you ended up finishing the book, although you stopped looking up unfamiliar words at about page 4.