A Book with a Sting – The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks Let’s Rock Book Review

When you feel like plunging into a piece of modern (or is it post modern now, or post post modern even?) literature, you could do much worse than testing the unsettled waters of The Wasp Factory. The titular factory itself is explored in the book, so don’t worry, or perhaps, do worry after you’ve read about it.

The protagonist is Frank Cauldhame, a haunted figure who recounts the deaths of various family members with matter-of-fact readiness, and informs us about his still living, but not all present, family, including his eccentric father with whom he is encarcerated, his mother who abandoned him, and his very unbalanced brother, Eric.

Events develop in a perplexing, asymmetrical fashion, with Banks taking a delicious delight in wrong-footing the reader at almost every step (every step would have been too easy and predictable, but this is just right).

The crackling first-person prose sweeps the reader along on an assured journey, giving us a modern (or post post modern or whatever) classic and one of the more satisfyingly strange experiences of recent times. Not for those with a nervous disposition or a weak stomach.