Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Quarry; Iain Banks

Title: The Quarry 
Author: Iain Banks 
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher: Redhook/Hachette 
Edition: eGalleySource:  Edelweiss 
Date Completed: Aug - 2013 
Rating: 3/5 

A fictional town called Bewford in England is the setting for Iain Bank's novel, The Quarry. The story is narrated by eighteen-year-old Kit, a seemingly awkward teen, who appears to perhaps fall somewhere on the Asperger's-Autism spectrum charts. He's super smart, a computer-wiz and spends hours upon hours playing computer video games. This could be a coping mechanism for Kit as well.

Kit lives with his father, Guy, a 40-something man, who is dying of cancer.  Kit does not know who his mother is, yet hopes to find out before it's too late. The two live in old house on the edge of a "quarry", that is literally, falling-apart, and his dad has just weeks to live.  As the story opens, Guy's friends are arriving for a final visit with their old college friend. Over lots of alcohol and drugs, the friends gather for a final visit with their dying friend.  There is talk among them about the need to find an incriminating videotape that the guys had made years earlier, but the heavily drugged Guy has no idea what he did with the tape.

Honestly, I had a tough time with this short novel. First, there are so many characters who come to say goodbye to Guy, that it was tough to keep track of them. In my opinion, all of these so-called friends were annoying, shallow and had no real depth.  Then there was Kit, who in my opinion, was the novel's redeeming light.  I felt for Kit and his situation -- no mother in the picture, and a dying dad who has never shown him any real affection. For what could have been a very depressing story, Kit made the story funny at times as he navigates life and the people around him.  It was hard not to feel sorry for Kit.  It's a relatively short novel about living and dying and dealing with the hand you've been dealt. 

The Quarry was Iain Banks final work, the author died in June at the age of 59, just months after finding out that he had gall-bladder cancer.  It's been reported that the author was writing this novel when he learned he, like the character in the book, was terminally ill.

I have not read any of the author's other 20+ books, which his fans have raved about, I was, however, expecting to like this one a bit more than I did.


  1. Too many characters can really get to me in a book. I spend so much time trying to figure out who they are, I have trouble getting into the book.

  2. I've not read anything by this author - didn't realize he had that many books! Sounds like a story that had a lot of potential but fell a bit short. I would like to try one of his novels one of these days.

  3. So many people seem to really love Banks's work. I'd like to give him a try, but perhaps I chose an earlier work.

  4. It's too bad this one wasn't better. I haven't tried anything by the author, but like, Brooke, think I'll start with his earlier work.

  5. I haven't read any of his books but remember reading about his cancer diagnosis and grim prognosis. Too bad this wasn't better. I love the arresting cover though!


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