Iain Banks is famous for writing two sorts of novels: mainstream fiction, and sic fi under the name Iain M. Banks.
Walking on Glass, his second novel, is composed of three stories. Graham Park is an Art Student in love with the enigmatic Sara ffitch. The book follows him as he walks to meet her: the chapter headings are the names of the streets he walks through. Steven Grout is a paranoid person who believes that he is an Admiral from the inter-galactic wars imprisoned on Earth: his chapter names are the names of people he encounters; except for his last chapter each starts with an exclamation: sacked! unemployed! social insecurity! drunk! Quiss really is a soldier from the intergalactic wars who is imprisoned in a ruinous castle with Ayaji against whom he has to play endless strange games: each chapter is entitled with the game: one-dimensional chess, open-plan go, spotless dominoes, chinese scrabble and tunnel (like bridge with blank cards).
Their stories intersect. A bit. Sort of.
The Graham story was delightful because he was a lovely young man in love and his best friend was a happily camp gay man. The Quiss story was the funniest, with nonsenses like a machine that chops up statues in the shape of numbers (because it is a number-cruncher) which are made from Plaster of Salt Lake City (like Plaster of Paris only duller). So Banks demonstrates his ability for lyrical description, for entering into the twisted logic of a madman and for weird humour. I was impressed with his writing ability but I'm not sure that I actually enjoyed the book.
May 2009; 239 pages
- Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57