Sunday, 6 July 2014

Whit - Iain Banks

The thing about Iain Banks is, I'm never much interested in the story, which is often the same from book to book - large, complex families with issues and history not quite what it seems.  What takes me by the collar is the authorial voice, different from book to book, and the sheer exhilarating quality of the writing.  Take Whit, for example.  Loopy new age religious cult living a cultish life in pastoral Scotland?  Really, I couldn't care less.  But, cast in terms of Isis's awakening to the real world and the truths that can be found therein, I was enthralled all the way through.  Well, almost all the way.  The trouble with family mysteries is that they have to be tied up, the parties reconciled - and that is done, somewhat perfunctorily, at the end of Whit.  I'm not sure there was any other way it could be done but ... still ... you could cut the last chapter and miss nothing

Banks is a giant of contemporary English literature, a trailblazer of the important Scottish novel in the 21st century.  That he died too soon is inarguable.  I just hope he doesn't fall into post mortem obscurity.

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