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January 2011: Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory

Discussion in 'Book of the Month' started by Libra, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. Libra

    Libra New Member

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    Discussion will start the 5th of January.:)
     
  2. olbreeze

    olbreeze New Member

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    i promise to take part in this one!
     
  3. Will

    Will Active Member

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    Definitely looking forward to this one. Just a few hours till kick off.
     
  4. Libra

    Libra New Member

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    I am a bit behind,really behind.:sad:

    btw,the thread is open so as soon as you want you can start the discussion.:)
     
  5. Anamnesis

    Anamnesis Active Member

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    I forgot about this. Ugh, I haven't even started the December choice yet.
     
  6. dude

    dude New Member

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    I should be done with it this weekend.
     
  7. Will

    Will Active Member

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    I love this book to pieces (what does that say about me, I wonder). It's one of my favourite novels and Banks one of my favourite authors. I have read much more of his sci-fi work, penned under Iain M Banks, than I have his contemporary literature stuff, though have found both equally enjoyable. I recall the shock on first reading it, but also at what a curious work it is indeed. So different.

    The Wasp Factory is quite dark, and at times harrowing, but it also has a sharp sense of humour which juxtaposes with some of the more 'worrying' prose that crops up.

    But then there's the humour too - that Frank was led to believe Pathos was one of the Three Musketeers, and Fellatio a character from Hamlet things that initially raise a chuckle, but then also have you thinking about how protected from the world Frank is and how his actions may have been moulded by his less than normal upbringing.

    The book itself is something of a stream of narrative covering what's going on at this particular time in Frank's life, along with the strange acts that he undertakes on a daily basis.

    I have to admit, I always just look at the Wasp Factory device, and the killing poles, as with all his ramblings on the island, as those of a bored child with too much time on their hands, making do with what they can pass for entertainment.

    But then there're the killings... I won't go on to much as this is my first participation in the actual book group on here so don't want to spoil anything major etc. Yet ;-) The end is quite shocking indeed. As for the rest of the book - it's just such a mix of things - brutal, horrific, cruel, mundane, but also reflections on the human condition, the quirks of people (Frank's father measuring and labelling things with their respective measurements etc.)

    One thing - this is often considered a work of gothic horror - I just wondered what classification other people might put the book into?

    I often think of it more as a tragi/black comedy at times, though definitely see where the gothic horror arguments come from.
     
  8. scooter13

    scooter13 Member

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    I'm with you there. I have always stayed away from reading horror novels, and yet find myself reading some these days that are classified as such. I guess it depends on your description of horror. I imagined gruesome scenes and thrilling rundowns of the victims (the reasons I stayed away). This book doesn't fall into that kind of vein. And given my experience with Banks' sci-fi work, it seems more of having something that is shocking in the story, along with his dry humor that makes it more black comedy. But not totally black comedy. If that makes sense.

    I read this after reading many of Banks' "Culture" sci-fi books, but you have to admit that this is one heck of a debut.
     
  9. Will

    Will Active Member

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    Isn't it just an awesome debut? Definitely be nice to have something like that on your CV. I like that thanks to his strong literary works his sci-fi catalgue is given stronger consideration by those who might otherwise dismiss it off-hand (arrogant literary critics etc).

    I think it's that veering away from one extreme to the other, from the various comical nuance to sometimes immediate graphic description of violence - in a fairly short space of time that makes it all so edgy. That, coupled with the narrator who's so matter of fact about everything. And, as you say, the shock value. He is a master of that, and it's a skill which has served him well as he has written his Culture novels.
     
  10. scribeswindow

    scribeswindow New Member

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    awaiting it from the library........
     
  11. eldog

    eldog New Member

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    I read The Wasp Factory after I first joined BAR and saw it mentioned in a few threads such as http://www.bookandreader.com/forums/f25/scary-or-disturbing-book-7390.html and http://www.bookandreader.com/forums/f25/what-is-the-darkest-most-disturbing-book-3030.html

    As you can imagine I had pretty high expectations for it. I was a little disappointed because I didn't find it especially gruesome (compared with something like American Psycho) but what it lacked in gore, I felt it more than made up for in the quality of the writing and the story.

    Possible Spoiler: As a medical scientist, I found the conclusion especially interesting.

    Overall, I would definitely recommend this book just don't expect horror!

    On a side note, has anyone read any of his other non sci-fi novels? And if so, were there any that would be worthy of adding to the TBR pile?
     
  12. Will

    Will Active Member

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    Alas, the only other non sci-fi novel of Banks that I have read is The Crow Road. It was very good, very different to the Wasp Factory, but the dark humour element was as prevalent in that if I recall.

    I have Canal Dreams on my bookshelf that I grabbed in a sale last year, but haven't gotten around to reading that one yet.
     
  13. Will

    Will Active Member

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    I was thinking of another book that reminded me a little of The Wasp Factory in regards the dark humour and strangeness of the protaganist (but not in the gothic horror aspects) and that's The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman by Bruce Robinson. I gave away my copy a few years ago, but possibly we could read that one sometime as book of the month as it's really, really funny, very touching and a great novel.
     
  14. dude

    dude New Member

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    I left the book at the office. :sad:
     
  15. scribeswindow

    scribeswindow New Member

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    Oh I feel for you!! Nothing worse when you've left your current read somewhere. Almost like leaving a family member behind.
     
  16. Will

    Will Active Member

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    Sometimes I wish I could leave a family member or two at the office. Whoops, in the words of Krusty the Clown I said the quiet part loud and the loud part quiet ;-)
     
  17. beer good

    beer good Active Member

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    Just started it. So far I'm very much reminded of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived In The Castle, which is a good thing as long as he brings something of his own to the party.
     
  18. Libra

    Libra New Member

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    ^^I was going to skip it until I read this.:whistling:
     
  19. beer good

    beer good Active Member

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    Just finished. Pretty much loved it.
     
  20. Will

    Will Active Member

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    hey beer good. Glad you enjoyed this book. Kind of keeps your attention from start to finish huh :cool:
     

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