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Julian Meynell's Books

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Banks' The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

Prior to reading the Wasp Factory I only read Bank's science fiction.  This book fits in nicely with that work and is of a similar quality.  This book is transgressive fiction with a deeply disturbed teenage boy as the narrator.  The book combines elements of the gothic novel with, a realistic modern character piece and a comedy.  It is very lightly and expertly written.  There is a big twist at the end that I found not objectionable.

The whole thing is very clever.  It reminds me a bit of American Psycho in that it has a psychotic and sociopathic narrator as the main character and it combines explicit acts of violence with comedy.  Unlike American Psycho, I find it completely successful and quite clever.  The character has a childlike innocence combined with the murdering and mayhem he causes.  It is immensely readable.  I don't know if it means anything, but Banks is a much better writer than his reputation would lead you to believe.  I think that his literature has not received the reputation that it deserves, because he also wrote science fiction, and his science fiction has not received the attention it deserves because he also wrote literature.

Even though his world view and style are quite different, the most sensible comparison is with Ballard because both of them have a similar maverick attitude to their writing, which is much more refreshing than their celebrated contemporary mavericks (people like Delillo and Roth) who of cause are not real mavericks because everyone is up their ass the whole time.

Anyway, a good, startling read.  Breezy and light teenage psychopathic behaviour.