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The Business Paperback – 8 Jun 2000

2.8 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (8 Jun. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349112452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349112459
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 886,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

After the shock impact of the excellent The Wasp Factory in 1984, Iain Banks' work has split along two lines. On the one hand, he has written a series of acclaimed science fiction novels (with a devoted following, their own fan magazine and inclusion of his middle initial); on the other hand, a number of diverse, and eclectic, forays into contemporary fiction (for example, the successful television adaptation of The Crow Road).

The Business is the 1990s success story run riot. The eponymous organisation is ancient, rich and invisible. All it lacks is a certain political clout, something the Business has avoided for centuries but with which it is now beginning to toy. A seat in the UN is at stake as Kate Telman, Level 3 executive, is drawn into the (rather polite) machinations of her superiors. Those expecting John Grisham may be disappointed. No bad thing, perhaps: Kate's personal-professional life-- there is, of course, no conflict here for the successful individual of the 1990s--is the main concern. Banks' interest is in the moral debates about the position of the Business in a world it finds easy to manipulate, drawing the reader into a discussion of the place of the multi-national in contemporary economic and cultural life. "A lot of successful people are less hard-hearted than they like to think": is one view put forward, and not the only romantic but equivocal sentiment hiding somewhere in The Business. --John Shire

Review

Consistently engaging....From its hilarious opening, a telephone conversation with a man who has lost his teeth, to the touching finale...it hardly misses a beat. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH ('Slick and streetwise. SUNDAY TIMES)

Bank s' ability to make you feel you're there remains as sharp as ever. TIME OUT ('.a slick, blend of thriller, dark comedy and offbeat love story, bursting with set pieces and sly wit. EMPIRE)

...Satisfyingly readable to the end (MAXIM)

THE BUSINESS is his tenth novel... and reveals no slackening in his imaginative energies (MAIL ON SUNDAY)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just half way through this one, so far so good.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Aimless, pointless, boring,rubbish, must have been written for girls comic. most dissapointed.
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Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure at first - it was rather slow getting going. I thought Kate would turn out to be a hard-headed business woman, and rather unlikable, but I was wrong, though I took issue with her decision to reveal all to Stephen - unnecessary and perhaps unkind. The book ended in a way I wouldn't have foreseen from the beginning, but it felt right.
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Format: Paperback
I have read all of Iain Banks novels and this one is one of my favourites.

The Business from where the book gets its name is a centuries old concern, at one point in the novel it is suggested that its history stretches back as far as the Roman Empire, but the story postulates the compelling conceit that over centuries The Business has been built up with assets and resources that go beyond countries and national powers to influence every part of the world.

Unexpectedly, at the top of The Business is a strictly meritocratic management structure, and here we come to the main story which is that of Kate who by a chance encounter on a housing estate outside Coatbridge, Glasgow, was lifted out of dire poverty to become Kathryn Telman, a senior executive officer, third level (counting from the top).

I won't say much about the story, except to say it had me hooked from the very start. It keeps the reader interested by using a variety of styles, phone conversations, emails, interview extracts; but also by a globe spanning selection of locals from Texas to Tibet, Yorkshire to Geneva. When it comes to describing how the very wealthy and eccentric spend their money, Iain Banks is as ever witty and entertaining.

I think what I find compelling about this book is the character of Kat Telman, as always Iain Banks female heroines are excellent, and the overall story of not necessarily good vs evil, but greed vs the greater good. Also some interesting reflections on what makes a happy life.

Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes books have a slow start, but eventually they get going, `The Business' did not even do this. I am a fan of Iain Banks, but as an author he can infuriate with his strange ideas and variance in quality. In `The Business' we follow Kate Telman around for a few weeks as part of a mysterious global network of rich people. This concept has a huge potential if part of a wider story. Unfortunately, by the final part I realised that the business was the story. The day to day running of a fictional conglomerate does not make for entertaining reading. On one or two occasions the book threatened to actually go in an interesting direction only to do an about turn and return to the mundane.

As a character Kate is pretty interesting using her looks, experience and intelligence to work the system. However, she is a very dry and calculating woman and in this way personifies the book as a whole. There is a very sterile style in the book as if Banks is almost bored with writing it. There is no action, suspense, romance or anything at all. It is merely things happening to people you do not really care about. When comparing this to Banks' own `Wasp Factory' or `Espedair Street' its light night and day. One to avoid for all but the most hardened of Banks fans.
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Format: Paperback
Iain Banks, once the most powerful fiction writer of his generation and author of two of my all time top 20 novels (The Wasp Factory and The Bridge), has been treading and water for many years and The Business is just more of this. Not as pointless as Canal Dreams or Dead Air, but nowhere near what he is capable of at his best.

Banks can't write badly (well at least he can't write fiction badly, lets leave it at that for now) and his ear for daft dialogue is still brilliant. The story rattles along and I was interested enough to keep going and finish it in three days. Unfortunately there is a 'but' here. It's that Banks is quite palpably making this up as he goes along and equally palpably, doesn't seem to care.

The end result is a story that lurches from one thing to another, switching plot pretty much every time it threatens to get truly absorbing, and Banks can't decide if he is writing a thriller, a Himalayan travelogue or a satirical expose of the amorality of big business. It ends up being none of the above and it was impossible to care much about the characters one way or another. I mustn't spoil things by revealing the ending, suffice to say it is daft.
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Format: Paperback
Though having read sixteen other Banks novels (four of which have been without the "M."), I must say that The Business is the most linear plot thus far, almost bordering on vapid when taken in its general sense like looking at a lifeless body, but its pulse can be found upon close inspection, which reveals a growing characterization of the heroine/femme fatale Kate Telman. The backdrop for Kate's growth isn't only The Business where she is employed, but it's also the entire world with financially impoverished fictional countries whose warm innocence and charm can melt the icy facade of a corporate queen.

Rear cover synopsis:
"Kate Telman is a senior executive officer in The Business, a powerful and massively discreet transglobal organization whose origins predate the Christian Church. Financially transparent, internally democratic, it want to buy its own State to gain a seat at the United Nations.

Kate's job is to keep abreast of current technological developments and her global reach stretches from Silicon Valley to the remote Himalayas. In the course of her journey Kate must peel away layers of emotional insulation and the assumptions of a lifetime. She must learn to control the world at arm's length.

To take control, she has to do The Business."

Kate was raised in western Scotland by an alcoholic and careless mother, which left Kate to find her own street-smarts while mum was away. On one fateful occurrence when she was eight years old, Kate was approached by an older lady. Kate's effortless business skills and cleverness impressed the lady, who organized a meeting with the mother. Thereafter, their lives improved with her mother getting steady jobs and Kate getting an excellent schooling--all for free.
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