A fine Irish writer, John Banville writes “regular” novels (The Sea, The Book of Evidence) as well as brilliant thrillers (Christina Falls, The Silver Swan), and he has a vocabulary so huge that it’s almost a character in his work. While reading The Sea, I kept track of all the words I’d never come across before. And no, dear readers, I did not look them up at the time, because I wanted to get on with the story. . . . Afterwards, I spent a very pleasant hour lying on the sofa with the Shorter Oxford. Just reading words. Here are some of them for your pleasure too: gleet, leporine, velutinous, cinereal, refulgent, horrent, supination, anaglypta, scumble, caducous, mephitic, anabasis. Most as you see are Latin or Greek in origin, but some coarse Anglo-Saxonisms are there too.