John Banville writes like a dream, composing some of the most elegant and, yes, intelligent sentences going. In this outing he keeps the fine-tuning just this side of preciosity while describing a day in the house – or is it the mind? – of a dying mathematician. Parallel worlds and alternate realities collide as some playful Greek gods join in, juxtaposing the magical and eternal with the quotidian, sensual reality that Banville so lovingly evokes in all of its texture, taste, and smell. What it means is very much left up for grabs, but with such luscious language one scarcely notices missing the point.