I was elbow deep in potato peelings when I heard the news last night, that the author Iain Banks had died at the grossly unfairly young age of 59. I’d missed the apparently well publicised announcement that he was suffering from terminal cancer, so it came as a huge shock.
Like many of his fans, I can date my attraction from the mid 1980s and his first novel The Wasp Factory. (I just checked and I have the second edition – 1985). I remember reading it while on holiday in the Highlands, in fact I can even tell you that I read a lot of it sitting in the dunes of Balnakeil Beach near Durness, engrossed.
Until then I hadn’t read much outside the classics I’d studied for A level, so his novel came as quite a surprise. You can see from the reviews, he included in the beginning of the book, he wasn’t to everyone’s liking….
But I was one of the very many who thought he was wonderful.
Over the years I’ve read my way through a number of his Iain Banks books – the Other Half likes his sci-fi titles better (Iain M. Banks).
If you’ve been here recently, you’ll know that inspired by Susan Hill, I am undertaking a challenge not to buy any new books for a year, but to read the ones I already have but haven’t read, or re-read titles that call out for another airing.
As you can probably see, all my Iain Banks books are well and truly read. In the normal course of things, I wouldn’t have put any of his titles on my list for this challenge, but after this sad news, I may well re-read The Crow Road, which I think is my favourite of all. (Occasionally if I can’t sleep at night, I try to remember the body count and sequence in The Crow Road).
One of his books that I didn’t buy, was his travels in search of Single Malts. This was out of pique – having spent a couple of years doing my own informal whisky tours and being peeved that he’d got a book out of it.
But it is my sincere wish that he is now sitting in heaven at a bar stocked with all the best single malts and with the Black Bowmore on tap.
I appreciate his works may not be to everyone’s taste, but I was a fan and so to his family and fans world-wide, I for one extend my sincere condolences – a sad day indeed.