Espedair Street by Iain Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
First of all, this is NOT a book by "Iain M. Banks" - it's by Iain Banks (in other words, it's fiction, not science-fiction). Second, why he's do difficult to find in the US I'll never know. Every book I've read is just good, solid fiction writing, equal to Julian Barnes, Robertson Davies and many other top echelon writers.
Espedair Street is a real street, but it barely figures in this tale of Wierd, the stage name for one Daniel Weir (in school he was Weir, D. - get it?). He's the lyricist and bassist for Frozen Gold, a hugely successful rock band in the 70s-80s until their lead guitarist dies. Told partly in flashbacks of his days with FG and partly in his present guise as Jimmy Hay, caretaker of St. Jute's, the folly that Weird bought, drinking his way through life and occasionally creating a jingle or a movie score. His current friends don't know who he is, or that he's stinking rich; his former friends/fans think he's dead (or perhaps living in the Caymans). It all comes abruptly to an end when he realizes that his brilliant ideas have killed (inadvertently) to of his bandmates. So, what was that about a future?
The characters feel real - even though you know this is fiction, you could plausibly meet someone just like them. The writing is crisp, not the bloated stories that often appear today because somehow bigger = better.
Seriously, if you don't know Banks' non-scifi work, find one of his works of fiction and read it, now.