Dead Air Paperback – 3 Jul 2003
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There's no question that the anticipation for each successive Iain Banks novel grows ever greater, and Dead Air is a literary event. The sardonic, inventive prose guarantees a unique reading experience with each new book (the misfires may be counted on one hand), and whatever genre he tackles, Banks is one of the most stimulating writers at work in Britain today.
His protagonist here is Ken Nott, a character as penetratingly realised as ever. He's a committed contrarian, ekeing out a living as a left-wing radio shock-jock in London. He makes his home in a loft apartment in the East End, in a former factory due to be demolished in a few days. After a wedding breakfast, people begin to pitch fruit from a balcony on to a deserted car park 10 storeys below; then they begin dispatching other things: a broken TV, a loudspeaker with a ruptured cone, bean bags and other useless furniture. Then the guests enter a kind of frenzy and start dropping things that are still working, at the same time trashing the rest of the apartment. But suddenly mobile phones start to ring urgently and they're told to turn on the TV, because a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center. And Ken Nott finds his life is to change irrevocably.
Banks's subject here is nothing less than the survival of the individual in the face of a chaotic world. The destruction of personality under the lacerating values of modernity is a subject repeatedly addressed by JG Ballard (and that author's shadow is clearly evident here), and although this is one of the Iain Banks novels in which he pointedly does not use the "M" in his name that marks his science fiction, this nightmare vision of contemporary London has more than a trace of that genre in its sense of fractured reality. But all the caustic humour and dark character development that Banks excels in are fully in place. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
There's no question that the anticipation for each successive Iain Banks novel grows ever greater, and Dead Air is a literary event. The sardonic, inventive prose guarantees a unique reading experience with each new book (the misfires may be counted on one hand), and whatever genre he tackles, Banks is one of the most stimulating writers at work in Britain today. (His protagonist here is Ken Nott, a character as penetratingly realised as ever. He's a committed contrarian, ekeing out a living as a left-wing radio shock-jock in London. He makes his home in a loft apartment in the East End, in a former factory due to)
Banks's subject here is nothing less than the survival of the individual in the face of a chaotic world. The destruction of personality under the lacerating values of modernity is a subject repeatedly addressed by JG Ballard (and that author's shadow is c (Barry Forshaw, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW)
The kind of exhausting, careering ride of a novel adored by speed junkies. Possibly, it's just what we all need (INDEPENDENT)
Banks has pulled off a great double - a deeply satirical and though-provoking thriller that will make you laugh but will also have you shredding your fingernails (SUNDAY EXPRESS)
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Top Customer Reviews
Now, I'm a Guardian-reading liberal who would agree with over 80% of the polemic in this book, but listening to the main character's diatribes becomes tiring. I was turning the pages looking for a story, a twist, a revelation, and ultimately I was not rewarded.
Iain, if you read this, I think you are a wonderful writer and I share your viewpoints but please next time bring more of your story-telling arts and capacity for drama and humour to the party, and leave the rants at the state of the world behind.
Finally, why do I appear to be the first person reviewing this book ?
I was pleasantly surprised to read "Dead Air". I had seen some reviews being rather lukewarm to the book, but I found myself really liking it. The dialogue is as sharp as ever, and the plot twists nicely and keeps you guessing what's going to happen next.
If you like books like "The Bridge", "The Crow Road", "Complicity" and "Whit", my guess is you'll also like this one. I highly recommend it.
The book isn't perfect; it occasionally meanders a little too much and some themes aren't really explored properly, but by the end you won't careone iota. A great book, flawed, but brilliant.
The book has been met by various reactions. As my mark suggests, I opt for the positive approach. "Dead Air" does not enthral like Banks's earlier books have, with a spiralling plot and tangles of ideas which the reader is left to unravel and understand for themselves - this, like his more recent novels, is about real life. It's less SF than the earlier mainstream novels tended to be. Focussing on shock-jock Ken Nott (and what a fine monicker), the narrative ostensibly follows him through various parts of his life and interactions with people he knows. However boring that may sound, it really isn't. What some readers/reviewers may have failed to pick up on is that this book is about themes. It is about paranoia, betrayal, the nature of truth, morals, and the intrinsic fallibility and double-standard manner in which every person exists. There's lots of lies in it, and lots of ranting: but this is all to underline the these themes, not just "a platform" for Banks to let off steam about issues of the moment.Read more ›
Why? Leaving aside the weakness of the plot and the cliched stereotypes of the main characters, my main impression of the book was that Iain Banks was trying to prove something - or several things. The sexual content is graphic, crude and gratuitous. It adds little to the story and seemed to me like it should belong in some sort of dodgy airport "erotic novel." As mentioned in other reviews here, the political rants appear to be thinly-veiled attempts to get Banks' own views across. The smutty radio-chat sections are woeful (or maybe I just missed the irony there). And the cultural references just seemed to be trying much too hard to show Banks is (still?) cool.
All in all, it lacks substance, it's trashy, and therefore a real disappointment. I can't decide if it's me or Banks' writing that has changed since I so enjoyed his earlier books. I hope it's the latter - so that there's the possibility of a return to form with his next book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fast moving, comedic first party account of a London DJ with a fast lifestyle. Lots of drugs, booze, swearing, wit and comedy, and it all ends up in a compelling final scene in... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Andy
I have read all of Iain Banks books and I normally read them in the year they were published. As Iain Banks fiction is very much of its time and full of contemporary references,... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Sally Ann Melia
‘Dead air’ is radio talk for unwanted silence when on air. The book’s Scots hero Ken Nott (35) never shuts up. Read morePublished on 26 May 2014 by Alfred J. Kwak