Author: Iain Banks
Year published: 1992
Time It Took To Read: Two days
My fiancé suggested I read this when I claimed I didn't want to read any of my ENORMOUS COLLECTION OF UNREAD BOOKS. I go through phases of this. Anyway, it's one of his favourite books of all time, so I obliged.
It concerns Prentice McHoan, the somewhat deadbeat middle child of the younger generation of the McHoan clan. He has escaped the family town of Gallanach, where it seems everyone is related to everyone, to study (badly) at Glasgow. He likes drink, drugs, music, trying to get laid, and trying to avoid his family. He doesn't speak to his dad because they differ in religious view, and his grandmother's just died, so back he must go. There's also the mystery of why his Uncle Rory known to be a unreliable, hasn't been back to Gallanach for years. He doesn't even come back for his mother's funeral.
This book is a catalogue of death. Indeed, it seems Prentice only comes of age because of the deaths of so many of his friends and family. And the deaths reveal slowly the secrets of Gallanach.
I enjoyed it. Iain Banks was a hell of a writer, and this book is full of languorous prose, like having a warm bath in description. The cultural references place it inextricably in 1990, which is a time I vaguely remember as one of starting school and hating chips and being steadily outflanked by younger siblings. It was simultaneously vaguely recognisable and terribly dated. Everyone is believable, and pretty much everyone who has ever attempted to escape a village or small-town life will recognise themselves in Prentice.
Book count: 16/50