Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Iain (M) Banks

I borrowed Iain Banks' The Bridge from my flatmate Paul Aspden just after I finished college. I was told that Banks was brilliant but that the book was a difficult one. I was blown away by it! It was grand, ambitious,imaginative and funny. As much as it was a work of fantasy it also seemed VERY real to me. Which isn't too shocking as Banks apparently wrote the book under the shadow of the Forth Rail Bridge. which I had driven past for many years and gone over more than once in a train.
His debut novel The Wasp Factory similarly blew me away and seemed to speak directly to me in a way that no other novelist ever had. The fact that this guy was Scottish and this good was amazing. As being Scottish always seemed a bit naff to me as a young man. Scottish popular culture seemed suffocating, parochial and embarrassing . Banks made it ok to be Scottish , cool even! I proceeded to tear through all the Banks books I could get. His Sci-Fi novels were similarly breathtaking. Was there nothing that this guy couldn't do?
A year or so later my friend and collaborator Martin Millar casually introduced me to Iain Banks at a reading in Edinburgh. We went for a Pint or two at a local bar. Not only is Banks a great writer, but he's also a really charming , smart and funny guy. Which is of course completely obvious if you have ever read any of his work. He's also been tremendously prolific. I even lost track of his output for a few years while I was in Africa and frankly I'm still catching up. If anything he's gotten even better with age.

This morning I found out that Iain Banks has terminal cancer and probably only has some months to live.
That news made me very angry and very sad at the same time. The anger was selfish because I don't want to lose him, the sadness because so many other people will lose him too and for the pain he is going through.

I may hold off on reading my last few Banks books. I want to have at least one to look forward to.
All the best to you Sir and those that love you. I owe you a pint.


  1. I didn't know about this sad news. Now my Easter post seems trite and...trite.

  2. trite, but beautifully drawn Tim