Top positive review
Iain Banks' final novel is a fitting epitaph for a great writer
on 27 June 2017
This is, sadly, Iain Bank’s last book. For that reason, it was always tinged with sadness for me and I had the book on my Kindle for the last three years, waiting for me to be ready to read it. Sounds melodramatic but there it is. Iain died of cancer in 2013 and the book concerns the events surrounding the death from cancer of the narrator’s father, Guy.
Guy does not go gentle into the good night. He rages against the world, the illness and the group of friends who have gathered around him for a long weekend. It does not help the atmosphere that he has brought them all together to find and destroy a video-tape that somehow incriminates them all and threatens their current careers.
The group were all together at university some twenty years previous and their evolution into the current personalities is the real subject of the book and how youthful idealism becomes corrupted by the passage of time and the need to make a living.
The narrator, Kit, is Guy’s son and suffers from Asperger’s syndrome - a high-functioning form of autism. This makes him perfectly placed to observe them all without making judgements about the motives and motivations of the various friends as they rapidly fall out and betray each other in the course of the weekend.
It should be depressing, but it isn’t. I left the book buoyed up and joyous. Death robs us of life but not of having lived a life. The changes in the characters of our friends may dismay us, but it does not take away from what they once were.
Someone who was beautiful, kind and loving cannot erase their past glory by being a little faded now.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I have enjoyed so many of Iain’s books. Now to re-read them all!