Thursday, June 04, 2009

Last night, I finished The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks.

To read my general thoughts on Iain Banks, you can see the synopsys at the top of my review of his last book, Dead Air, here. This new book is again in a similar vein, more like The Crow Road than his stranger books. In this case, even more so than Dead Air, since both The Crow Road and The Steep Approach to Garbadale have a lot to do with family mysteries and conflicting romantic relationships. The newer book is structured very differently, with interlacing flashbacks and points of view instead of a consistent narrator.

Garbadale is a good book, if not quite up to the standards of The Crow Road. His characters never fail to be compelling and interesting, and the reader strongly feels their emotional struggles and dilemmas. The opening is weakened a little by the multiple, switching narrators and point of view, but once the main shape of the story is visible, it is quite engrossing. There is a minor revelation at the end that I had mostly figured out.

The one negative about the book were the anti-Bush/America diatribes near the end. Putting aside whether or not one agrees with their content, they felt out of place in the story and seemed to be their just so the author could vent his spleen. In the future, I'd recommend that he gets a blog for that purpose, and doesn't burden his characters, stories and readers with them.

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