Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Wasp Factory

Many, many years ago - at least 18 or so - TLH and I had been 'courting' for about a year.  We were still at that massively loved-up stage of making mix tapes and buying favourite books for each other.

It was lovely.  I made him a cassette tape of some of my favourite songs (yes, it was that long ago, when cassettes were still common) and bought him, one Christmas, the DVD of Cleopatra with Liz Taylor.

He bought me, amongst other things, 'The Wasp Factory' by Iain Banks.  For some reason, I never read it.

Last week I finished reading 'Ragnarok' by A S Byatt (which I can highly recommend, by the way, and reminded me very much of how much I had enjoyed reading the myths and legends of other countries, especially Norse and Greek myths, when I was about the age of the girl reading them in Ragnarok) and needed to find something else to read.  Something not too long as I'm trying to read more books this year than last (if you give a toss as to what books I've read this year, click on my Shelfari link on the left hand side of this blog and they're all listed).  All the books I've got in my pile beside the bed, waiting to be read,  are hefty tomes and practically all of them are non-fiction - there are a couple of books about popular culture in the 1950s and 1960s; there are 3 volumes about the Third Reich, each of which are so thick that if you threw them they could stun an ox from 50 paces; The Kenneth Williams diaries which is about 2 inches thick; 'Swallows & Amazons' which, no, I've not read yet but didn't fancy just now.

So I went downstairs to our study where we keep some of our books (the rest are in several large bookcases in the garage - I don't want them in the living room because, well, I just don't, okay?  Don't judge me...)  I looked at the titles, actually looking for one of the several P G Wodehouses that I know I've got, but not locating any.  All my Nancy Mitford books were there, as were my Evelyn Waughs and, tempting as they are, I just didn't fancy them right now.

Then my eye fell on 'The Wasp Factory'.  I'd not read it, it was purportedly Gothic in tone and it was pretty thin - 'that'll do' thought I.

Then I opened it.  It's only bloody signed by the author, isn't it? Look -


I asked TLH about it and he had no idea he'd bought a signed copy!  And, what's more, Iain Banks has just sadly died from Pancreatic cancer so it might be worth a few bob in the future.  Unfortunately it's not a first edition but, hell, I'm not that mercenary about it!  We do have a few signed books in our library - there's a Spike Milligan, a Melvyn Bragg and (my favourite) an Al Shepherd (one of the Mercury Seven/Apollo astronauts) so once I've finished reading this, it can go with the other signed copies.

To be honest, I'm not entirely enjoying the book.  Animal cruelty upsets me tremendously and the book seems to have some on every page so I'm finding it hard not to throw it across the room.  I'm about two-thirds of the way through and I do kind of want to know what happens but I have very little sympathy for a murderous 16-year old who kills small animals (even if he had his genital bitten off by the family dog when he was 3) who is waiting for his psychotic older brother Eric - you know, the one who sets dogs on fire - to return home after escaping from a mental institute.  Basically it's a bloody horrible story but I will finish it.

Then find some lovely, soothing Wodehouse to wrap my soul in fluff as a reward.

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