03 January 2009

The Crow Road; Iain Banks

The Crow Road The Crow Road by Iain Banks

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Not the easiest of Iain Banks' novels to get in to (Whit and Dead Air are probably better starting places for his work), but worth it.

The "Crow Road" is both a physical place (a road in Glasgow) and a state of being, namely, dead (apparently there is an old Scots saying, "he's awa' up the Crow Road"). And one of the characters/narrators, Rory McHoan, lived on one and is presumed to be on the other. The mystery of what happened to Rory is in some ways the centerpiece of the book, as is the next Great Work Rory was supposed to be writing when he disappeared.

Prentice, one of our narrators, leads us through his life, loves (and lost loves) and an awful lot of drinking as he sets out to solve the mystery of Uncle Rory. Kenneth, Prentice's father and Rory's brother, plays another pivotal role (as a character and as a narrator), as do Rory and Uncle Fergus. It's the changing of narrators and time-frames that make this a difficult work; non-linear novels are difficult enough without trying to figure out whose voice you're hearing.

In the end, the mystery is solved and Prentice's seemingly aimlessly drunken walk through life has taken a turn for the sober and thoughtful. He's a character I wouldn't mind meeting again.

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