Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Wasp Factory

Author: Iain Banks (or Iain M Banks)

Published: 1984

What They Say: Meet Frank Cauldhame. Just sixteen, and unconventional to say the least:

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim.

That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through.

What Elaine Says: Oh my! Where do I start with this.  Disturbing but riveting is possibly the easiest description of this. This is my first Iain Banks novel but I guarantee you it won't be my last.  The writing is fantastic. Banks has a knack of conjuring the most disturbing images with the simplest of sentences. 

A controversial book when it was released The Wasp Factory takes us into the daily routine of Frank.  Frank is a 16 year old who lives on a remote Scottish island with his father. He also happens to be a murderer. We join Frank when he discovers that his brother has escaped from a mental hospital and is on his way back to the island. The story Frank proceeds to tell us is, in parts, truly horrific*.

You can certainly see why the book caused such controversy when first released but actually as a piece of writing it is rather spectacular.  Banks delivers a narrative that is so simple, so matter of fact and yet so chilling,

This is the first novel by Iain Banks and while much of his future works are science fiction (a genre I haven't paid that much attention to), this has definitely left me wanting  to read more.

*Not the faint hearted, be warned The Wasp Factory contains some rather graphic descriptions of animal torture.

Elaine's Rating: 7/10


“My greatest enemies are Women and the Sea. These things I hate. Women because they are weak and stupid and live in the shadow of men and are nothing compared to them, and the Sea because it has always frustrated me, destroying what I have built, washing away what I have left, wiping clean the marks I have made.”

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