Monday, 10 June 2013

Iain Banks is dead....

I was very sad to read that Iain Banks passed away yesterday. I didn't read every book he ever wrote, but the ones I read left an indelible mark.

Banks wrote more than a dozen works of fiction and, writing under the name Iain M. Banks, the popular science fiction Culture series.

He is an author who many people will not have heard of, so I thought it would be worth considering the book that I best remember.

Banks wrote The Wasp Factory in 1994. It was his first novel. His publisher, Abacus, put together a
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
memorable black and white cover with the key items of the novel -  a burning dog, a catapult, roman numerals - represented by pictograms.

The book is narrated by Frank Cauldhame, who lives with his father on an isolated island somewhere in Scotland. Franks has spent a lot of time alone and is an odd child. He imbues objects with mystic powers and, because of his strange upbringing, is forced to hide when people come to visit his father.

Much of the early part of the book is devoted to Frank's retelling of how he killed three of his young cousins before he turned ten. The story's violent climax arrives when Frank's brother escapes from a mental hospital. It ends with a twist you can't see coming.

I haven't read this book for at least five years, but I can still remember most of the scenes. In that sense I would compare it to The Road, another book which has stayed with me over the years. Macabre, bizarre, gothic. Original, surprising and humorous too.

When the book came out it courted controversy for its depictions of violence. However,  it recently made it onto one of those Top 100 Books of All Time lists, showing that the book has wide appeal.

I have read other books by Iain Banks, but I keep coming back to The Wasp Factory.  I believe it's a modern classic. As the expression goes, read it and weep.

You can buy The Wasp Factory (paperback, ISBN 9780349138909) from us. Select whichever delivery option suits you. Please note that we do not mail outside Switzerland.

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