A Right Guid ReadIain Banks SpecialWelcome to Fife’s libraries reader reviews newsletter. All booksreviewed in this newsletter are available from Fife’s libraries. To find outwhich libraries have these books, to make a request or share a review, visitwww.fifedirect.org.uk/readingroomTitles reviewedThe QuarryWelcome to this special edition of A RightGuid Read, a tribute to the Dunfermlineborn author, Iain Banks, who died earlierthis month. Iain was a very talented writerwho had a huge following worldwide forboth his mainstream and science-fictionnovels. He burst on to the literary scenealmost 30 years ago with ‘The WaspFactory’, which at the time split opinionand then went on to be listed as one ofthe best books of the 20th Century.If you haven’t read any of Iain’s books,why not give some of these a try.Raw SpiritEspedair StreetThe Hydrogen SonataTransitionclick on the photo to search ouronline library catalogueThe Crow RoadThe Steep Approach to GarbadaleSurface DetailStonemouthThe State of the ArtThe Wasp FactoryThe Bridge
A Right Guid ReadReader ReviewsThe QuarryIain’s latest and last book, The Quarry, features a father and son, Kitand Guy, who live together in a dilapidated house on the edge of aquarry. Kit is seen as odd, and Guy who is dying of cancer, isgathering his old friends about him before he dies. Kit has no ideawho his mother is, and wants to find out. He also wants to know thesecret behind the mysterious tape made by his father and his friendswhen they were at university.Described as ‘ fast paced, gripping and savagely funny’ this book issure to be hit with Iain’s fans, and will reinforce the power and qualityof his writing.Iain had written most of this book before he was diagnosed withcancer. His widow has said that he would never have used his ownexperiences to base a novel on as it would have suggested he had alack of imagination.Raw SpiritShare Iain’s journey round Scotland’s whisky distilleries while he seeksto find the perfect dram and unlock the spirit of the single malt. Thistour of Scotland combines history, landscape and literature along withthe whisky, of course, and visits some of the most famous Scottishdistilleries, as well as the smallest and least known of them. Iain’sjourney is filled with humour and is a great read for anyone interestedin Scottish culture and history, as well as whisky.This title is also available in spoken word format from Fife’s libraries.Espedair StreetEver since I first read it Espedair Street has been one of my favouriteIain Banks novels. It is his first mainstream novel, neither experimentalnor genre fiction, and every time I read it still manages to amuse andmove me.Espedair Street is a novel which is pretending to be a rock starautobiography; the story of (fictional) seventies band Frozen Gold astold by bass player and song writer Danny Weir who looks at his life,past and present.This is Iain Banks at his brilliant best!
A Right Guid ReadReader ReviewsHydrogen SonataOne of the series of Culture novels, this book published twenty fiveyears after the first Culture novel, is as funny and as imaginative as therest of the series. Different worlds and civilisations are brought to lifewith such skill, that you are immediately drawn into the action and arecompelled to keep reading.Pick this one up and you’ll find it difficult to put it down.This title is also available in spoken word format from Fife’s libraries.TransitionWhen Transition was published there was a lot of talk about why this wasn’t anIain M Banks given it is unashamedly sci-fi with people able to travel betweenparallel worlds. He had however set a precedent in Walking on Glass and TheBridge.At times ‘Transition’ reads like a Ken MacLeod novel not least because Banks hascreated a detailed world which would probably bear revisiting. But, although manyof its concepts seem barely touched upon, the story itself feels properly resolvedeven if there is something of an open ending. ‘Transition’ is one of those booksthat challenges you to keep up on its terms given that there is a minimum ofexposition in each thread (not unlike some of the early Ken MacLeod books). Butit is successful in that goal as each tale is involving making this something of apage turner.This title is also available in spoken word format from Fife’s libraries.The Crow RoadIain Banks is a very special writer. You need to be ready for himbecause his stories require a lot of focus and patience-this is whatmakes him great! Almost always, there is a payoff that makes all thewondering of where he's is going worthwhile.The Crow Road is probably one of his most accessible novels. Itcentres around Prentice McHoan and his family in a Scottish village.The story moves along with alternating viewpoints as well as movingback and forth from flashbacks to present day.Banks slowly peels back layers of the story, and as a reader, I lovesitting back and letting it all unfold.
A Right Guid ReadReader ReviewsThe Steep Approach to GarbadaleAs ever it’s a good read, the characters are interesting enough, and the storyrattles along nicely between the past and the present. The back story details leadcharacter Alban’s lustful obsession with his cousin Sophie whilst in the present heis attempting to persuade his relatives not to sell the family company to anAmerican predator.It is very similar to Crow Road -remote Scottish country seat , dark family secrets ,misplaced obsession with a member of the opposite sex . This is one of Banks’snovels whose journey to the end of the novel is better than the end itself. There isa dark secret revealed at the end of the book is very close to the end, making itseemed slightly rushed but I wouldn’t let it stop anyone from reading it.This title is also available in spoken word format from Fife’s libraries.StonemouthBanks seemed to revel in creating complicated stories, and there is no betterexample of this than in Surface Detail. It is written from 6 different viewpoints, andyou’ll need your wits about you to keep track of it all.On one level it’s a tale of revenge as Lededje Y’breq travels across the galaxy toavenge her murder at the hands of Jolier Veppers. Lededje’s quest is intertwinedin a pan galactic struggle between societies whose views on virtual reality hellsdiffer hugely. Sitting somewhere on, or perhaps near, the sidelines is the Culture.Banks’s imagination runs riot throughout the book particularly when it comes toimagining the tortures of the various hells. The book is packed with memorablecharacters from the loathsome Veppers to Demeisen the avatar of the Culturewarship Falling Outside the Normal Moral Constraints and all in all it sails along ata cracking pace.This title is available in Spoken Word from Fife’s libraries.Stewart Gilmour is returning to Stonemouth after a gap of 5 years afterbeing run out of town for an, initially at least, unspecified mistake. Given thatStonemouth is effectively run by two families (in the Mafia sense of theword), as well as renewing old acquaintances, Stewart’s return risks neverleaving Stonemouth in one piece.‘Stonemouth’ is hugely enjoyable with a believable and largely sympatheticset of characters.It doesn’t break any new ground for Banks though as a buried ‘secret’,families and even a bridge have all featured in previous books. But still wellworth a read.This title is also available in spoken word format from Fife’s libraries.Surface Detail
A Right Guid ReadReader ReviewsThe State of the ArtA short story collection. Mostly but not all science fiction. All cynical,some more on the farcical side and some more on the gruesomeside. My favourite is "Some Notes on the Culture" where Banks giveshis philosophy on how the Culture could have come to exist and whatqualifies them as a utopia. They are fine stories that often delight withthe author's trademark humour and unconventionality.The Wasp FactoryThe novel which started it all in 1984 but at the time had mixedreviews. It did however go on to the rated as one of the top 100 booksof the 20th Century. The Wasp Factory featured on recommendedreading lists for many years, and justifiably so.This novel tells the story of Frank, a 16 year old who lives with hisfather outside a remote Scottish village. Frank has led a verydisturbed childhood, and this leads to some rather dark and potentiallydisturbing moments in the book. However there are also a number ofblack comic moments which keep the reader hooked. If ever a bookshould be on a list of books you should read, this has to be included.This title is also available in spoken word format from Fife’s libraries.The BridgeSomebody’s been in a bad car crash. But before we get into that we’re whiskedaway to the story of an amnesiac adjusting to life on a giant bridge (whichseems to have no end on either side and houses an entire, self-sufficientsociety). He dreams of a barbarian hero and a progressive yuppie pining forthe elusive love of his life in 70s/80s Scotland.It's quickly clear that all of the protagonists are supposed to be the same man(from the car crash), though I’m not sure how their individual stories (with theexception of the one that isn’t supposed to be a coma-induced fantasy) aresupposed to mean anything outside of being interesting and entertaining. Still,for those who don’t need everything to tie together, it’s a great ride. HereBanks’ effortlessly stretches his imagination muscles before he’s published asingle science-fiction novel. And Culture fans get teased with mention of knifemissiles and something that resembles a drone.