It must be compulsory for wannabe writers in fifth year at school to read The Wasp Factory and marvel at it.
It's not very good. Perhaps I was somewhat jaded when I read it for the first time. The book was the same age as me when I picked it up from the 'Older Students' section of my school library. The slim book was finished in a weekend and I was not left very impressed. In 1984, the year Orwellians were doing Jones impressions of "We're all doomed!", readers may have been more shocked at images of maggots feeding off living brains. And the brains of children for that matter.
Next came an attempt to read The Crow Road. Twice I picked up that heavy volume and twice it was returned to the library unread. It was not until this year that I finally finished a copy. Again the story was about nothing. I may have missed out on some wonderful metaphor for life but, honestly, it was really about the main character getting his hole wasn't it? But it was well written and had enough interesting plot twists to keep the reader engaged. Better than some of the painfully written tripe that appears on the lists of book trendsetters such as Richard and Judy.
And your point caller? I was reading through yesterday's email edition of The Guardian. The bibliophile's dirty weekend, or the Guardian Hay Festival, is under way and Mr Banks is appearing at it. Having published his first novel in years he needs to do something to promote it. Hence the article I read in this weekend's Guardian. Unlike some writers who like cowering away from politics, Banks makes no qualms about it. He famously ripped up his passport when Blair went to war against Iraq (please note, Britain didn't go to war) and stamped his literate foot in Dead Air.
One thing annoys me about Guardian interviewers is the immature attitude they take. Honestly, why would you suggest weeing in a swimming pool to a man in his 50s? However, there are some gems in this article. The following quote sums up a lot of my feelings on America:
"Personally, I believe when faced with an imperial power - and let's not kid ourselves, that's exactly what the USA is - one ought to do everything nonviolent one can to resist it, just on principle. The USA is a great country full of great people. It's just their propensity as a whole for electing idiots and then conducting a foreign policy of the utmost depravity that I object to."
The full article is here for anyone who is interested.