Sadly there have been no long train rides this week. But that didn’t stop me devouring The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. This is not my first time reading this novel, but it has been ten years since I’ve read it. I read this novel at a point in my life where I didn’t read much. Shock! It is my guilty secret that I didn’t start life gobbling up novels early. Obviously things have taken a turn and now I have a steadily growing pile of books I have read this year beside my bed.
I have to say I think I enjoyed this novel more this time round. I enjoyed the weird wonderful world of Frank and his eccentric family the first time around but I maybe didn’t understand as much as I do now. Most memorably the first time I read this I found myself disorientated most of the time which is something that has gradually changed the more novels I have read.
But it is hardly surprising as Frank, the protagonist of this novel, certainly moves around a lot! Located on a tiny island with access to the mainland of Scotland, Frank spends a lot of time patrolling the area and has named certain points on the island. This novel is quite an intense read, there is a lot to get your head around as Frank believes in possessing some sort of power, names everything and has a very rich personal mythology. This is a very introspective novel, Frank is quite an isolated character but is certainly not boring.
The Wasp Factory doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the richness of the story. The narrative is quite simple in reality but Banks really draws out very interesting twists and details about all of the characters concerned. Frank’s brother Eric has escaped from hospital and is on the rampage home. In between Eric’s phone calls and worrying about his whereabouts and actions, Frank tells us family history in detail Including ‘What happened to Eric’, some dismal family suicides and, of course, Frank’s involvement in murdering three family members.
This is not the usual ‘coming of age story’ and Banks successfully weaves a very authentic feeling novel with compelling voice. The novel surrounds some pivotal realisations for Frank who certainly sees a great deal of personal development, as well as a twisting and interesting ride for the reader. The thing I enjoy the most about Frank is the honesty and ‘frankness’ of the character. This was certainly an interesting revisit and I think I will read it again once I have once again forgotten some of the more harrowing parts of the novel.
There are parts of this novel which are certainly not for anyone who is of a sensitive disposition or anyone who is squeamish. I think as summer is now well on its way, I will be reading Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury next.