TIL I have a pretty low tolerance for written grossness.
After the excellent The Crow Road, I picked up another one of Iain Banks’ famous works: The Wasp Factory. I didn’t know what to expect. Well, that’s a lie. I expected it to be a science fiction piece (again) and I was wrong (again).
The Wasp Factory is a first person narrative by Frank Cauldhame – a 16-year old Scot who is quite… odd. Odd is a pretty underwhelming adjective to describe Frank. That boy is fucking sick. And his world, or at least how he sees and describes it, is so dirty and strange and, well, horrifying.
Despite the grossness, I had to give props to Mr. Iain Banks for such powerful prose. The writing was splendid (for the lack of a better adjective), and his deadpan humor for both TWF and TCR has propelled him on top of my list of favorite authors ever. What an excellent writer, and my god what a sick and twisted mind!
The way he wrote and the amount of animal cruelty and grossness in The Wasp Factory made me physically ill. It also didn’t help that we had lots of meat to eat the day I finished it, which is the day after I started it. Yep, I read the darn thing for less than 24 hours. The novel was quite short but that is still a feat for my tiny brain. It was very engaging and you never quite know what to expect. I gasped many times while reading the book and there are images in it that will, sadly, be etched in my mind forever. 😦
I know it might seem like I didn’t like the book but I did. Really. There aren’t a lot of novels so far that has affected me quite as strongly as The Wasp Factory did. It’s best to not know anything about the book before and while reading it, but if you love and are as involved with the written word Iain Banks wonderfully put down as much as I was, you will definitely want to know how everything ends.
Don’t eat while reading this though. It won’t end well for you.
I found a gem of a review from the Irish Times when The Wasp Factory was first published:
It’s a sick, sick world when the confidence and investment of an astute firm of publishers is justified by a work of unparalleled depravity.