Sunday, 7 April 2013

Iain Banks: sad news

Sad news this week which hit home in this household.  The writer Iain Banks has cancer and has only months to live: he announced the news himself on his website. As fans of this writer whose books have been a backdrop to our relationship, both my husband and I were shocked.  And he's only 59, just a bit older than us, so it's a stark reminder of our own mortality.

His first book and the one which established his reputation, 'The Wasp Factory', was published in 1984, the year we met.  It's not the kind of thing I usually choose but my husband was insistent I read it and I'm glad I did.  It's the story of Frank, a sixteen year old Scottish boy, and his attempts to make sense of his life and history.  It's described as 'gothic'on the most recent cover and the description of the wasp factory of the title which he uses to torture the small creatures is fairly graphic.  It's a while since I've read it (20+years!) but I also recall some fairly gruesome details about earwax being used in his experiments. Like 'Skippy Dies' which I'm still rereading (nearly finished), the focus is on a teenage boy, and it works because of the strong narrative and convincing voice for the central character.  Wonderful twist at the end too.  We saw a theatre production of the novel in London in the 1990s and it was also memorable.

Paperbacks from the early days

 Since then my husband has been a huge fan of Iain Banks reading every book which has been published including the science fiction ones, easily identifable as he uses Iain M. Banks for these.  And there have been a lot of books, so that every summer holiday since he seems to have been reading an Iain Banks book.  I've read most of the mainstream ones too, my favourites being 'The Bridge' a kind of semi sci-fi book about a man in a coma which reminds me of '1984', which I've read at least twice.  I also like 'The Crow Road' which was made into a TV drama. 

There's a page on Banks' website where fans can leave messages for him. I've been trying to persuade my husband he should write something on it.  He's not keen - usual male reluctance to express emotions - so may have to do it for him.

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