I’ve just finished Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory and it is some novel.  Our narrator is a 16 year old,  Frank who admittedly has killed three of his family members.  He reasurres of that he doesn’t plan on killing any one else; it was just a faze he was going through.  Frank spends his days on an island on the coast of Scotland living a sparse life in the town with his one friend, his father and the house keeper.

Franks’ father keeps many secrets from Frank, and therefore from us.  These are secrets that a bound to be unlocked by the end of the novel; and let me tell you when they are unearthed you feel an almost palpable need to reread the novel immediately to see if you should have seen it coming.  What I can tell you; Frank hates women, kills animals in a war like fashion to protect his “land” and tortures wasps to garner information of the future via the “wasp factory” of the title.  Oh, and his brother Eric has just escaped the insane asylum and the family is worried that he is coming for them and along the way will continue to, let’s just say hurt more dogs.  Why Eric goes insane, what secrets Franks’ father holds and a deeper sociological expose on gender and sanity is all explored.

I’m not going to lie, I had a tough time getting through this novel in the beginning.  The first 90 or so pages is a very detailed description of Franks’ daily living situation and the set up of his very animal totemic superstitions, we watch him kill rabbits and birds to become protectors of his living space, we watch him set up war games, we watch him create weapons; all in great detail.  We hear what is going on in his head, and it’s not until about page 100 (nook pages at least) that we realize that all that came before was actually truly interesting and very very important.

The violence in the novel got a lot of flack when the book came out and was quite controversial due to the “matter of fact-ness” in which the violence is laid out.  It worked for me, as a whole, only after the novel was over.

Once again, after it was said and done; I actually really enjoyed this novel, recommend it hightly and cannot wait to let is sit and fester, and then read it again.  It’s quite like watching a cerebral film that you only understand after all the pieces are in place and when you rewatch it do you see how the pieces were actually all there from the get go.

 

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