#31: Espedair Street (Iain Banks)

A musician who was once in a world-famous band now lives incognito in a church folly in Glasgow. Something terrible happened to break up the band, and Dave Weir hasn’t gotten over it yet. The story unfolds, half as things come apart in the present, half building up to them coming apart in the past…

I had trouble remembering if I’d read Espedair Street or not. I eventually came down on the side of “have read it” — I think I must’ve gotten it on intra-library loan at some point before I started the book blog. I definitely remembered several things from the later parts of the book, including the meaning of the title.

One reason I was having trouble, though, is that this book is structurally so similar to The Wasp Factory — main character reminisces, goes through a present-day story that includes drinking with strange friends, a revelation, a twist, an epiphany. It almost feels like Banks was trying to show that he could write a novel without any fantastical elements at all — even though the fantastic elements of his first three books were the best parts.

Ending status: this book, as well as his other one published the same year (Consider Phlebas), show that Banks at this point still hadn’t figured out how to stick an ending.

Leave a Reply