* Paperback reissue of a modern classic, Iain Banks' WALKING ON GLASS, inexorably powerful' - OBSERVER
Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY in 1984. He has since gained widespread popular and critical acclaim with further works of fiction, and, as Iain M Banks, science fiction.
Banks received rave reviews from critics in his native England and the U.S. for his debut in The Wasp Factory. His second novel is also an extraordinary feat, terrifying and baffling, going far beyond the bounds of fiction as it's usually defined. There are really three separate stories here. The first concerns nice young Londoner Graham Park, in love with Sara ffitch (sic), whom he meets through his gay friend, Slater. The latter's wild ideas provide needed comedy in an otherwise brooding atmosphere, as Graham worries over whether he can win the mysterious Sara from her biker boyfriend. The next story tells of Steven Grout, a laborer who can't keep a job because of his disruptive temper. The paranoid Steven believes ``They'' are out to get him via lethal microwaves. The scene is laid in a surreal castle where two prisoners, Quiss and Ajayi, are being held for failing as soldiers in the War Against Banality and Interest. The pair, required to answer riddles to win release from this science-fiction hell, miss every time. Banks connects the entirely different events in the novel's closing pages, which reveal what happens between Graham and Sara in a scene so shocking it leaves the reader numb. February 14
'Inexorably powerful . sinister manipulations and magnetic ambiguities' - Observer 'The author's powerful imagination is displayed here every bit as vividly as in his debut' - Financial Times 'Establishes beyond doubt that Iain Banks is a novelist of remarkable talents' Daily Telegraph
Banks's unusual novel explores the imagination's more grotesque efforts to cope with life, in three personal dilemmas. Graham Park is a young innocent in love, due to awaken to his role in an unwholesome relationship. Steven Grout is a paranoid and a betrayed warrior from another realm, exiled to our world to suffer secret microwave and laser torments as a social misfit. The elderly Quiss and Ajayi themselves are dishonored exiles of a cosmic war, fated to play bizarre games and answer an impossible riddle, in the strangest castle this side of Mervyn Peake. Banks shows a compelling ability to enter their lives. How he brings them together in a fantastic framework is somewhat less compelling. But his vision of disillusion and escape remains memorably funny and sad, like the idea of glass made real in his castle: a transparent yet only apparent solid, that slowly is puddling under the pull of gravity. Recommended. Jeff Clark, SUNY Coll. at Old Westbury Lib.