Nov. 3rd, 2013

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Finished reading Iain Banks's final novel The Quarry today.

18 year old Kit lives with his father Guy in a crumbling old country house. Kit is on the autism spectrum. Guy is dying of cancer. Guy invites his old university friends to stay for a weekend. In between drinking and taking drugs, the friends search the old house for an embarrassing video tape they made in their youth.

It's a disappointing book.

Banks was writing it when he was diagnosed with cancer, and there was a race to publish it before he passed away. Sadly, it shows. Characters are underdeveloped. Plots wander listlessly, then are dropped. Dialogue is repetitive, or overindulgent. Guy rages against the dying of the light at length and with plenty of swearing, but his speeches are much less affecting than his moments of weakness.

There's potential in there. If Banks had more time, if he wrote another draft, it might have been a fitting final novel.

But he didn't. He died at age 59, less than three months after announcing he had cancer.

He wrote some great books in his time. The Quarry is not one of them, but I'm grateful for the ones we do have.


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