The author's powerful imagination is displayed here every bit as vividly as in his debut (FINANCIAL TIMES)
From the Back Cover
Graham Park is in love. But Sara ffitch is an enigma to him, a creature of almost perverse mystery. Steven Grout is paranoid - and with justice. He knows that They are out to get him. The are. Quiss, insecure in his fabulous if ramshackle castle, is forced to play interminable, impossible games. The solution to the oldest of all paradoxical riddles will release him. But he must find an answer before he knows the question.
Park, Grout, Quiss - no trio could be further apart. But their seperate courses are set for collision.
'Establishes beyond doubt that Iain Banks is a novelist of remarkable talents'
'Banks is a phenomenon . . . wildly successful, fearlessly creative'
Willian Gibson--This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
He walked through the white corridors, past the noticeboards with their offers of small rooms and old cars, past the coffee bar where people sat at tables, past a hole in the white floor where an old chair stood sentry over an opened conduit in which a torch shone and a man crawled, and as he left he looked at his watch:
He stood on the steps for a second, smiling at the figures on the face of the watch. Three three three. A good omen. Today was a day things would come together, a day events would coalesce.
It was bright outside, even after the painted lightness of the marble-flaked corridor. The air was warm, slightly humid but not sultry. The walk would be a pleasure today. That was good too, because he didn't want to arrive at her place hot and flustered; not today, not with her at the end of the walk, not with that subtle but unequivocal promise there, waiting, ready.
Graham Park stepped out on to the broad grey pavement outside the School and during a break in the traffic jogged across Theobald's Road to its north side. He relaxed to a walk on the pavement outside the White Hart pub, his large black portfolio held easily at his side by its single handle. Drawings of her.
He looked up at the sky, above the blocks and squat towers of the medium-rise office blocks, and smiled at its blue, city-grimed segmentings.
Everything seemed fresher, brighter, more real today, as though all his quite normal, perfectly standard surroundings had until this point been actors fumbling behind some thin stage curtain, struggling to get out, but now stood, triumphant expression frozen on face, hands spread, going 'Ta-Raah!' on the boards at last. He found this young-love rapture almost embarrassing in its intensity; it was something he was delighted to have, determined to hide, and wary of examining. It was enough to know it was there, and the very commonness of it was reassuring in a way. Let others have felt this way, let them feel it now; it would never be exactly like this, never be identical. Revel in it, he thought, why not?
A worn and grubby old man stood with his back against the wall of another tall grey-and-brickred building. He wore a heavy grey-green coat, even in that heat, and one of his shoes was open at the toe, baring skin inside. He held two huge boxes of mushrooms. It was the sort of sight - the poor, the strange - which usually alarmed Graham.
So many strange people in London. So many of the poor and the decrepit, the still spinning shrapnel, walking wounded of society. Usually they oppressed and threatened him, these people with little threat to offer, and much to fear. But not today; today the old man, hot in his thick coat, blinking from his grey face, clammy hands round his two two-pound boxes of mushrooms was merely interesting, just a possible subject for a drawing. He passed the Post Office, where a young black man, tall and well dressed, stood talking quietly to himself. Again no fear. He realised that maybe he really was after all, just a little, the country hick he had tried so hard to avoid being. He had been so determined to be ungullible, city-wise that perhaps he had gone too far in the other direction, and so read a threat in everything the big city had to offer. Only now, with the promise of the strength she might give him, could he afford the luxury of thinking so closely about himself (you had to have armour in the city, you had to know where you stood).
He had opted for the cynical, guarded approach, and now he could see that for all the safety it had brought him - here he was, in his second year, still solvent, heart intact, unmugged and even succeeding in his studies, despite all his mother's fears - every defence had its price, and he had paid in a separating distance, incomprehension. Perhaps the young black man was not mad; people did talk to themselves. Perhaps the old man with the torn shoe was not some desperate down-and-out with fists full of stolen mushrooms; maybe he was just an ordinary person whose shoes had split that lunchtime, while shopping. He looked at the traffic roaring by, and over it through railings at the leafy greenness of Gray's Inn, edging into view on his right. He would remember this day, this walk. Even if she did not . . . even if all his dreams, his hopes did not . . . ah, but they would. He could feel it.