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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2016
I re-read this after watching the BBC dramatisation of the book - and not remembering the plot!

That's because they changed it around a little to simplify the book and make it more dramatic. The book itself is all first-person narrative and (mostly) present tense, which gives it great immediacy and almost unbearable tension,but means that we only know what Stewart knows - which isn't everything.

The story is all small-town tensions and claustrophobic intensity of a group of childhood friends and lovers, and the resumed bullying of the hero on his return from the big city to put right a major mistake in his life. A great read and recommended for Iain Banks fans.
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on 21 July 2015
I saw the TV adaptation and that made me buy the book. Now I'm wondering, how could the BBC screw it up so badly?
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on 14 December 2013
This is not my favourite book by Iain Banks but it is excellent. I think he was incapable of writing badly. He will be hugely missed, what a wonderful writer and human being
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on 1 March 2015
One of the greatest scottish authors sorely missed :-(
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on 19 December 2015
This is my second Banks novel (the first was the not-very-brilliant Quarry).

The opening chapter is fantastic. What an atmosphere on the bridge, with the constant undercurrent of suicides. A shame the author never properly explored this. I liked the book and the style is easy to read, but it is a couple of hundred pages too long. There just isn't enough happening. I wish he had kept the feeling of menace generated at the beginning, with more on the bridge and the suicides. I thought the bridge was going to become a character in its own right and, sadly, that didn't happen.
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on 2 May 2012
Addictive, nostalgic, funny, tense and satisfying. I'm shocked to see so many unflattering reviews of Stonemouth above - (in fact I almost took note of the 'same old formula' lines myself) - but I have to disagree that this book is boring, flat, predictable... following a tried and tested formula.

Sure, Banks displays some of his more trademark themes throughout, but he does it so well. And Stonemouth is such a tight, well paced novel... the plot moves so smoothly and effortlessly, its a wonder he can evoke such knowing and telling segements of the past we are all so familier with - love, betrayal, violence, returning home....

The Steep Aproach to Garbadale may seem very much a companion piece to Stonemouth (its no Crow Road - he may never surpass that), but Garbadale I found a little clunky in places, a tad too long.

Stonemouth cuts to the chase. Yes there a family secrets and a sense of dread in Stewart returning home. Yes there are romantic moments and themes on lost love.... but if you've been a fan of his and find his storytelling so real and close to home, then this will not disappoint.

The music/ drugs/ childhood anicdotes and smart-alec quips are all here, but you'd be hard pressed to find another writer who can do it in the way Banks can.

Perhaps some were hoping for something a little different, sure. But do not be put off by a 1/2 star review stating Banks is perhaps lazily revisiting old ground here.... Its handled beautifully - a very accomplished book, well paced, tone pitch perfect and one of the more satisfying endings I've seen in Banks for a while now.

Better than Steep Approach, but no Crow Road - 4 stars seems about right
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Bildungsroman
: a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character
MerriamWebster

This is my first Iain Banks book, why, I have no idea. I am of Scottish heritage, my maiden name, MacLeod, and I love all things Scottish. Reading the initial PR about thus book caught my attention, and I was not disappointed. This is the real Scotland, not the tourist's brand. Stewart Gilmour returns to his hometown, meets a man on the bridge that enters town, and is also the jumping off place for some poor souls. He needs the OK from the town's head mobster to return for a funeral. It seems he was run off from town a while ago for some deed we are not privy to. As the story moves alng, we do find the reason, but it is a long long time coming.

The Murstons are the family with the money and the misdeeds. The author treats us to Stewart Gilmour's life as he grows up in Stonemouth to set the stage for the finale. We meet the friends, the foes, relatives, the townspeople, and how they all work together to formulate the culture of this town. Gilmour's returns to town as an educated professional man, and he is envied and defiled, depending which side you are on.

The writing is swift and superb. The characters jump out at you. This is a book that gives as good as we get. I don't want to spoil one page for anyone. You will want to continue to read until you can't keep your eyes open. What we learn fairly early on is that you can't go home again easily. All those unanswered questions, may be best not answered. What we know as a young person, may not be at all what we know for sure as an adult.

Recommended. prisrob 12-04-13
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on 2 August 2017
My word, this was hard work to start with. After the first two chapters I was losing the will to live but for some reason decided I would read to the end of chapter 6, which was a quarter of the book. By that time it had improved sufficiently to continue and nearer the end I was hooked. There's a lot of swearing, drinking and drugs, which cunningly conceals that he writes very well. There are a lot of characters who don't add much to the plot and the ending is weak. But on the plus side there's also room for interpretation of the climax of the plot and I thought that was very clever. Or maybe I just didn't get it, ha ha.
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on 28 June 2013
Stonemouth was my first read of Banks having only seen the TV drama of Crow Road several years ago and has now encouraged me to read more of his fiction. Am not a fan of sci-fi so unable to comment on his other genre. From the start of the book, I got into the sharp scottish accent with all the characters and could picture every description whether it was scenery, town, or their characters. A tale combining first loves, childhood friendships, jealousy, rivalry, drug culture, describing how life really is within a small depressed town. For me, this book had an engaging storyline that I got into and couldn't put down. Romance, anger, depression, humour & wit all in one hit. Definitely worth reading.
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on 26 July 2012
Another fabulous book from Iain Banks. The storyline skipped along like a pacey thriller - sometimes hilariously funny and next page seriously scary. I couldn't put it down and got through it in a couple of days, when not a lot was achieved on the work front as a result. I am therefore really surprised to see that the rating currently stands at 3.6/5.0. However, read the reviews and you find that the critical ones are from readers that openly express a preference for the SF of Iain M Banks. Each to their own, but I prefer the fiction, and this book gets a 4.7/5.0 from me. All the action takes place over three days so it really drew me into the narrative. I will certainly read it again in the future along with Crow Road, with which it is often compared.

There has been some criticism that this book is similar to others he has written. Garbadale is frequently mentioned (which I also enjoyed). Let's face it - writing about characters aged 18-25 is interesting, as peoples' lives and loves change so rapidly in that time. If he writes another book with characters in the same age group I wouldn't hesitate to read it. Why would you when you are reading the UK's best living writer.
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