Friday, 12 December 2014

Review: The Quarry, Iain Banks

I've been putting off reading this.

There's a scene in Y, The Last Man where Yorrick goes to the monument raised to the memory of all the men that have died, there he meets Rose, a young woman who - when asked who she is mourning - answers, "Mick Jagger."
Used for review purposes

That's how I feel. If we had an event along those lines, of course I would mourn my family and friends, naturally I would suffer all emotions a functional, compassionate human would feel, but the writers would be what broke me.

I will still choke up with tears when I am suddenly struck by the memory that there will never be another Cherstomanci book. Still.

And in the same way, I will never again read a brand new Iain Banks novel for the first time.

So, yeah. I've been putting it off.

What can I really say? That I've been measuring it to a different standard because it's the last one? That I didn't want it to end. That if I air any kind of criticism (because, no, it isn't perfect) I'm somehow being disloyal.

This is ridiculous.

I am being ridiculous. I am making this personal, and part of my grieving and it has not damned thing to do with me.

So, the book? Well, the book is excellent. It felt good, it felt powerful to have this last novel not as ambivalent and non-committal, but with Banks firing on all cylinders, kicking back against this inhumane travesty of a ruthless government and the way that it corrupts and brutalises. He is a better man than any of them.

It's just a pity he hasn't outlived them. He deserved at least that.

Appropriately, almost ironically, it is a book about loss, about death, but it is a shout against those things and it's a good thing that it's a shout. It makes me angry at death, angry at injustice, angry at finality. Iain Banks always makes me feel that way, and he always makes me hope, too. The universe he paints is merciless, violent, unkind, but it is not despairing. It is godless, but not cold.

I'm grateful for that.

So, if you've been putting it off, stop. Read it. It's worth your time, now. You'll have to let it go in the end, have to accept you're going to mourn.

RIP, Mr Banks.

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