Iain Banks – The Quarry

Guy is suffering from cancer and feels his death is not far away. He gets some close friends to Willoughtree House for a bit of a gathering and The Quarry is set over the course of this weekend.

His son Kit is responsible for looking after his father and has got used to the house slowly crumbling around him. He goes into some detail about helping Guy wipe himself for the first time and it’s something that he has to do with his eyes closed. He’s been there with all the medics and everything points to Guy having a few months to live and it’s something he’s constantly struggling to come to terms with.

Kit has an unnamed condition that makes him struggle with social situations. He feels particularly odd as he’s never been told who his mother is. It’s Kit’s voice that takes this novel above average. Even his account of recycling makes for great reading, saying that it gives him a sense of fulfilment, showing him what’s been consumed in the household and giving a bit of order to things.

Guy is angry about his condition, shouting at people that they can’t wait for him to go and treating his son with unbelievable cruelty at times. Everyone’s telling him to keep positive but he’s scared of the reality of no longer existing.

These two characters are very well drawn but I could certainly do without most of the other characters in the book. Pris says the group are a ‘bunch of Heathers’, a reference to their tendency for bitchiness. A large amount of the narrative is taking up searching for a videotape that could be potentially damaging to many of them.

It makes for an entertaining enough read, with a particularly well executed narration. However, some of the story felt somewhat whimsical and just didn’t capture my imagination in quite the way I felt it should have.

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