Friday, 13 April 2012

The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks

There are a few books by Iain Banks in our house - or even by Iain M Banks.  But this is the first that I've read, and I will be reading many more.  This story is about aspects of the human condition, and I'm going to list them here because my other half insisted that if I knew what it was about, I had to tell him.  Well, it's about a man getting over his first teenage love, about families and how nutty they are, tolerance and acceptance, and a small scale observation on large corporations.  

Alban McGill falls in love with this cousin as a teenager and spends the next ten years of his life getting over it.  But what happens in between is a life story of a man who is not quite as conservative as his family would like, who goes his own way, taking the long road, in the words of the Dixie Chicks.  Although the narration does meander a bit (hence the confusion about the exact premise of the story) it perfectly illustrates the story of a young man who has lost his way in the world, doesn't know where he quite fits, doesn't feel he belongs anywhere.  

Alban is a likeable, even loveable, character and I cheered him on which is he secret of the page turning quality of the novel.  I cheered particularly at his anti-capitalist outburst directed at the representative of the multimillion dollar company who wants to buy his family firm.  

Also lovely in this novel is the Shakespearian comedy duo of great Aunts Beryl and Doris, lending light relief with their mis-heard comments and half-sloshed ramblings, occasionally promoting a laugh out loud moment.   

Alban eventually does find his place in the world, but to tell how this happens would ruin the story... 

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