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Binarisms

John Sutherland, 18 November 1993

Complicity 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 313 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 316 90688 3
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Against a Dark Background 
by Iain M. Banks.
Orbit, 496 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 1 85723 185 6
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... Say ‘Iain Banks’ and the person you are talking to will say ‘The Wasp Factory.’ Banks may have as much trouble getting out from under the success of his first novel as did William Golding. It was a memorable debut. The Wasp Factory provoked a moral panic in 1984. The TLS critic called it the ‘literary equivalent of the nastiest kind of juvenile delinquency’; Margaret Forster thought it less a novel than the script for a video nasty ...

In Charge of the Tuck Shop

Sam Thompson: Iain Banks, 22 March 2007

The Steep Approach to Garbadale 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 390 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 0 316 73105 8
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... In interviews, Iain Banks has said that his new novel The Steep Approach to Garbadale was first imagined as a fantastical tale of multiple realities, in which characters would find themselves magically trapped inside a board game. The novel he has written instead is a family romance, set in the UK in 2005, and the board game it features is safely non-magical ...

Banksability

Ian Sansom: Iain Banks, 5 December 2013

The Quarry 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 326 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 1 4087 0394 6
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... of alternative employment. Ignore your inner urges. No man but a blockhead etc. Do anything else. Iain Banks was not a blockhead. He was one of the few winners in one of the world’s oldest and most respected winner-takes-all systems. So now that the obituaries have been written and the tributes paid, how might the rest of us claim our inheritance? What ...

Turns of the Screw

Hugh Barnes, 7 August 1986

Mating Birds 
by Lewis Nkosi.
Constable, 184 pp., £8.95, July 1986, 0 00 946724 6
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Lost Time 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 220 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 340 38783 1
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The Bridge 
by Iain Banks.
Macmillan, 259 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 333 41285 0
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Incidents at the Shrine 
by Ben Okri.
Heinemann, 130 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 434 53230 4
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Things fall apart 
by Chinua Achebe.
Heinemann, 150 pp., £3.50, July 1986, 0 435 90526 0
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The Innocents 
by Carolyn Slaughter.
Viking, 219 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 670 81016 9
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... imagination, and of accidents that proceed from it, is enhanced, however, by comparison with Iain Banks’s treatment of related matters in his new novel. Banks has made a name for himself as an unembarrassable master of the macabre, which he gleefully represented in The Wasp Factory and Walking on ...

Who’ll be last?

Jenny Diski, 19 November 2015

... If it were​ a race, the first man home – except for Iain Banks who won the trophy by a mile – would be Oliver Sacks (announced 19 February – died 30 August), with Henning Mankell (announced 17 January – died 5 October) a close second. Lisa Jardine won a race of her own, staying shtum publicly, her death a surprise except to the few who knew ...

Adventures at the End of Time

Angela Carter, 7 March 1991

Downriver 
by Iain Sinclair.
Paladin, 407 pp., £14.99, March 1991, 0 586 09074 6
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... Iain Sinclair, in the profane spirit of Surrealism, has chosen to decorate the endpapers of his new work of fiction with a dozen unutterably strange picture-postcards. They show scenes such as that of six men, heavily veiled, veils held down by brimmed hats, posed with long-barrelled rifles. And two men in grass skirts, with feathers in their hair, intent on a game of billiards ...

Cows are more important

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Discomfort of Evening’, 24 September 2020

TheDiscomfort of Evening 
by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchison.
Faber, 288 pp., £12.99, March, 978 0 571 34936 4
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... value is something of a tradition, whether or not its author goes on to show a wider range, as Iain Banks did after The Wasp Factory in 1984, or leaves it at that, as Charlotte Roche seems to have done since the publication of Wetlands in 2008. In any case Rijneveld’s material, though irreproachably extreme, can be interpreted equally glibly in ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Ronnie Kray bows out, 8 June 1995

... says London refuses to oblige major film productions? Roads closed off, police, colourful extras, banks of cameras: the funeral is a one-day epic with a minimalist performance at its centre. There’s nothing for the uninvited to witness. One hundred and forty ticketed seats barely cover the worldwide media interest; reporters book in for a taped rendering of ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

Weather 
by John Farrand.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 239 pp., $40, June 1990, 1 55670 134 9
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Weather Watch 
by Dick File.
Fourth Estate, 299 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 1 872180 12 4
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Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment 
edited by J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £40, September 1990, 9780521403603
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Crop Circles: The Latest Evidence 
by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews.
Bloomsbury, 80 pp., £5.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0843 7
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The Stumbling Block, Its Index 
by B. Catling.
Book Works, £22, October 1990, 9781870699051
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... the capacity of crushing to zero the spirits of fragile, potentially suicidal personalities. Cloud banks absorb the hurt from wounded psyches, become leaden, withhold more of the light. We infect the skies with our own despair. And are infected in return. Unsuspected weather-allergies roam the city like serial-killers. Bad will generates a sympathetic storm. A ...

In Fife

Kathleen Jamie, 23 April 2015

... bowl in the Ochil hills, and is orientated almost exactly east-west. On its north and south banks grow sparse hawthorns tufted with lichen and old stunted oaks. At its western end, where the springs that feed the loch rise, Scots pines and larches dominate. On winter afternoons they stand silhouetted against the sunset. Because the loch was dammed to ...

Rodinsky’s Place

Patrick Wright, 29 October 1987

White Chappell: Scarlet Tracings 
by Iain Sinclair.
Goldmark, 210 pp., £12.50, October 1987, 1 870507 00 2
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... the Trust went on to bring credit facilities into an area which had been ‘red-lined’ by banks and building societies. It emerged as a campaigning property company, able to buy buildings, refurbish them with a care for the minutest period detail, and resell them under covenant. The new immigrants form a mixed and largely agreeable group, and they ...

Upriver

Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... son et lumière procession, is noticed by Ackroyd in the act of ‘meeting his adherents by the banks of the Ravensbourne’. ‘No other tributary of the Thames,’ he writes, ‘has such a history of insurrection and bloodshed.’ One of the distinguishing features of Ackroyd’s Thames is recurrence; landscape is revised, personages come ...

The Raging Peloton

Iain Sinclair: Boris Bikes, 20 January 2011

... Hackney, earphones are obligatory, as much part of the uniform as the upper-case logos of merchant banks, the conspicuous marathon charities, on the tight T-shirts of self-punishing joggers. I interviewed the painter Jock McFadyen, who has been, for many years, a haunter of the towpath, exercising his greyhound, or cycling to his studio beside London ...

A Car of One’s Own

Andrew O’Hagan: Chariots of Desire, 11 June 2009

... It goes with the territory, as they say, but why? Watching the present face-off between the banks and the car industry is like watching two mangy cats fighting over a dead bird: portions of the British car industry have been taken under government control before now – British Leyland was part-nationalised in 1975 – and several ...

If I Turn and Run

Iain Sinclair: In Hoxton, 1 June 2000

45 
by Bill Drummond.
Little, Brown, 361 pp., £12.99, March 2000, 0 316 85385 2
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Crucify Me Again 
by Mark Manning.
Codex, 190 pp., £8.95, May 2000, 0 18 995814 6
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... no-show show, the perfect way of emptying rooms and secret spaces, slaughterhouse cellars, former banks, the struck sets of the Industrial Revolution. This art is designed to repel browsers. The private view or first night piss-up is the event. The rooms are then too crowded to allow anyone near the exhibits. After that, the show has a posthumous, hangdog ...

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