↠´ Read Ü The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks Î What if what if Holden Caulfield was born on a remote Scottish Island into a disfunctional family, with a former anarchist for a father and a flower power mother who ran away soon after he was born Banks envisioned his angsty teenager character as a sort of alien living on a deserted planet, a translation of one of his science fiction ideas The object of the study is sanity and ethics when the individual is removed from the ordinary social interactions most of us take for grantedI was never registered I have no birth certificate, no National Insurance number, nothing to say I m alive or have ever existed Francis Cauldhame is a monster, a sort of teenage Hannibal Lecter He is also the narrator of this deranged fairytale, casually mentioning to the reader that he became a serial killer before his ten anniversary but he is better now he only kills rabbits, rats, gulls and other unfortunate small critters that visit his windblown island on the East coast of Scotland He has a hobby for making totems decorated with the skulls of his kills, for building dams out of sand and then blowing them to create floods and for burning dead wasps on altars build from dead dog skulls His favorite toys are catapults with steel balls, improvised flamethrowers, air guns and pipe bombs that he builds in his toolshed from fertilizer and acids I had a hard time finding redeeming qualities in our boy Frank I can t even call him an unreliable narrator because he is unrepentant and actually proud of his past deeds His callousness and lack of remorse made me feel unclean reading about his actions and tainted other aspects of the story, like Frank s obvious intelligence and his dark sense of humour The fact that I kept reading at all is due to the talent of Mr Banks, who sneakily introduces several mysteries into what at first glance is a clear cut case of psychopatic behaviour genetic disorder everybody in the Cauldhame family seems to have some sort of psychological baggage father a recluse with a sick sense of humour and a cellar filled with army grade plastic explosive, mother a runaway free love relic of the sixties, uncles and aunts suicidal in bizarre circumstances, older brother interned in mental hospital after setting dogs on fire and feeding worms to strange children view spoiler three other siblings and childhood friends killed in horrendous circumstances by Frank hide spoiler ,1835 1902 .
Frank, No Ordinary Sixteen Year Old, Lives With His Father OutsIde A Remote Scottish Village Their Life Is, To Say The Least, Unconventional Frank S Mother Abandoned Them Years Ago His Elder Brother Eric Is Confined To A Psychiatric Hospital And His Father Measures Out His Eccentricities On An Imperial Scale Frank Has Turned To Strange Acts Of Violence To Vent His Frustrations In The Bizarre Daily Rituals There Is Some Solace But When News Comes Of Eric S Escape From The Hospital Frank Has To Prepare The Ground For His Brother S Inevitable Return An Event That Explodes The Mysteries Of The Past And Changes Frank Utterly The Wasp Factory Is A Work Of Horrifying Compulsion Horrifying, Because It Enters A Mind Whose Realities Are Not Our Own, Whose Values Of Life And Death Are Alien To Our Society Compulsive, Because The Humour And Compassion Of That Mind Reach Out To Us All A Novel Of Extraordinary originality, Imagination And Comic Ferocity Now we all know that dating a fictional psychopath or a sociopath can be a lot of fun While it is true that these individuals rarely make viable candidates for a long term commitment, short term relationships have been shown to have some real upside For example, dating a psychopath can be a breath of fresh, adventurous air following the end of a stale, boring and unsatisfying relationship as they are much uninhibited and willing to experiment than the typical person In addition, a psychopath or a sociopath is a great choice if your goal is to get back at an overly controlling parent as they make the ideal I ll show them companion HOWEVER, despite the positive aspects of casually dating a fictional sociopath or psychopath, it is still important to exercise caution when deciding to court or allow oneself to be courted by one of these individuals as there are some very troubled individuals that it is best simply to avoid Therefore, as a public service I have been maintaining a list of these DO NOT TOUCH individuals and now need to make an addition to the list Previously the list was comprised of the following 1 PATRICK BATEMAN 2 LOU FORD 3 ANTON CHIGURH 4 ANNIE WILKES 5 CLOWNS They are ALL creepy, sadistic and evil and they scare the piss out of me 6This spot reserved for THE JUDGE from book Blood Meridian Or the Evening Redness in the West 394535 .
I haven t read it yet, but have been told be people I trust that he may actually be 1 on the list 7 BUFFALO BILL 8 DELBERT THE BUTLER GRADY.
Seen here talking to Jack Torrance Jack Torrance did not make the list because Jack Nicholson, who plays him in the movie, is SO COOL that you can t choose to avoid him even if he does chop you up in the end.
9 THE BURGER KING.
AND NOW, MAKING IT AN EVEN 10, THE NEWEST MEMBER TO JOIN THE THEY MAKE STEVE SCREAM LIKE A LITTLE KID WHEN THEY LOOK AT ME CLUB IS FRANK CAULDHAME from The Wasp Factory who joins the list near the top Frank is a 16 year old boy living with his not all there father in a very secluded thank God Island near Scotland Frank is a smart, imaginative, resourceful, EXTREMELY DISTURBED sociopath Frank s entire life is about rituals and ceremonies hence the title which is explained during the story Frank spends his days trapping and killing animals on the island and placing there heads on Sacrifice Poles set up along the perimeter of his family s property While these rituals are bizarre and gruesome, they are not arbitrary and Frank has a detailed, rigid belief system behind his actions which is both fascinating and very unsettling Told in the first person by Frank, this short 200 page book is RIVETING from beginning to end as Frank slowly unfolds the history of his life In one early scene that sets the tone for the novel, Frank very casually mentions having killed 3 children during his young life but doesn t plan on killing any saying, it was just a phase I was going through While Frank is detailing the history of his childhood another plot line involves the escape of Frank s brother, Eric another disturbed individual , from a mental hospital in Glasgow During the course of the novel, Eric is slowly making his way back home for a family reunion while trying to evade the authorities I don t think you need to know much except that this is an absolutely amazing study of a disturbed mind and, for me, ranks up there with American Psycho and The Killer Inside Me as a true crawl under your skin classic The writing is excellent, the characterization is as good as it gets and the plot is captivating 5.
0 stars and my HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Huh, what Oh no tell him I m out It s the guy who rang last week no, I don t want to speak to him, no HI IAIN Great to hear from you Yeah, yeah How s it hanging Yeah So What can we do you for today Well yes, you told me that last week You ve written a novel, great Oh yes, ha ha, that s what we do here, we publish books Yes but you know, first novels are not that easy to sell You have to have an angle What s that You ve got an angle Great Great Listen, er oh what Your hero does what He sacrifices animals Yeah Cool Oh, and seagulls He lives on an island what, like Robinson Crusoe Kind of like that No His what His genitals Eww I think and oh, there s a dwarf Yeah Well, impotent, sacrifices animals, dwarf, yeah, that s kind of an angle I guess The what They drown in what Urine Urine The you know the ad campaign is not really forming in my mind right now I gotta be honest Iain, you know what I mean, I can t see the cover yes yes the brother mentally ill drugs torture Iain, wait, wait Stop, please, just Look, I m really sorry, and all But you know I just can t really see this as being something we would be interested in just at the oh Right He s gone Wow Man, I need a drink Listen, if Iain Banks calls up again, I m OUT, do you hear OUT Rating 4.
95 of fiveThe Publisher Says Frank no ordinary sixteen year old lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village Their life is, to say the least, unconventional Frank s mother abandoned them years ago his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace But when news comes of Eric s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother s inevitable return an event that explodes the mysteries of the past changes Frank utterly.
My Review Much has been said in disgust and even anger about this polarizing book Some have called for it to be banned Others have written the equivalent of a silent finger down the throat mime.
You are all entitled to your opinion Here is mine This book is brilliant It will be remembered long long after the pleasant entertainments of the day are forgotten than Restoration drama Hands up anyone who knows who Colley Cibber is And don t front Or use Wikipedia I m also an ardent partisan of Lolita, that deeply disturbing and very beautiful book by a pedophile about his pursuit of the perfect lover I loved Mrs Dalloway, the chilling, near perfect narrative of a wealthy woman s desperation and crushing ennui.
So here s the deal Frank, and his brother Eric, aren t role models, aren t people you d want to be around, aren t amusing compadres for a jaunt along the path to the Banal Canal They are, like Hum and Lo and Clarissa and Septimus, avatars in the pre Internet sense of the raw, bleeding, agonic unangled, in this use purposelessness of life They are the proof that salvation is a cruel ruse These characters rip your fears from the base of your brain and move them, puppetlike, eerily masterful withal, into your worst nightmares.
And all without resorting to the supernatural.
Humanity comes off badly in this book The truth of what made Frank the person he is will leave you chilled than any silly evocation of a devil in a religious text Frank s very being is an ambulatory evil act But the reason for it, the motivating factor, is the absolute worst horror this book contains All the animal torture stuff is unpleasant, I agree It s not as though it s lovingly and lingeringly described And it pales in comparison to Frank s raison d etre.
So yes, this book is strong meat It s got deeply twisted characters enacting their damage before us, the safely removed audience It s making a serious point about human nature And it s doing all of that in quite beautifully wrought prose, without so much as one wasted word.
But it s essentially a warning to the reader Don t go there Don t do the pale, weak kneed versions of the rage and hate fueled horrors inflicted on Frank, and even on Eric Pay attention, be mindful of the many ways we as lazy moral actors condone the creation of Erics and Franks in our world.
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3 I completely get if you rated it 1, 2, 3, 4 or even 5 stars For the first time ever in the history of my reading life I would understand completely any rating for this book I thought long and hard and for me it was a strong three star that could have been a four star but wasn t for a number of factors First of all the writing is terrific Vivid and robust and hyper masculine prose with dialogue and thought patterns that zing and sing I was able to see in my mind s eye what was occurring in the exterior landscape as well as in the protagonist s consciousness The material was fairly original and very clever The protagonist has been described as a teenage psychopath which I think is too simplistic and I think this is a very accurate portrayal of teenager who because of trauma, isolation and benign neglect has developed a very complex schizotypal personality disorder whereas his brother has a very severe case of paranoid schizophrenia Whoa Jaidee, you make this sound like a four star read at least Why the three Well for a number of reasons 1 there is just too much animal crueltyat times it appears gratuitous rather than allegorical2 the last ten percent was a complete and ridiculous sell out to me with a dumb and I mean dumb shocker as well as the last few pages were a very limp psychological explanation of why the protagonist behaved as he did3 I cannot believe reason two happened.
really I can t and in some ways makes me want to give the book 2 stars butI know this would be completely unfair and so I am going to stick to 3 strong stars.
I am very glad I read this book for the vivid brilliance but also am very sore at the author for the ending which was just oh so lame
I sat on the terrace and looked down the valley to the backdrop of the Pic d Anie in the Pyrenean mountain range As I read the last sentence of The Wasp Factory, I closed my Kindle and smiled and thought about this extraordinary book If I hadn t seen Richard s excellent review the other day, I wouldn t have purchased it in a million years But strangely enough I could get the feeling that I would enjoy this book purely from the title Something drummed in my brain that I had to read this.
This is not my genre at all and I see that it s referred to as a Gothic horror and yet, I started to read it and couldn t put it down I really cannot understand it I cannot tolerate torture, and cruelty to animals, but strangely through Frank Cauldhame s eyes, not your normal sixteen year old teenager I hasten to add, I was allowed to enter into his own special world I warmed to his strange ways and ideas immediately, and even felt sorry for this rather badly adjusted adolescent I felt he was on the road to discovering himself Unfortunately, he was also a murderer That s my score to date Three I haven t killed anybody for years and don t intend to ever again It was just a stage I was going through Well that s comforting to hear, don t you agree So considering Frank s background, how can you possibly blame him for the way he turned out He lives on a small island outside the remote Scottish village of Porteneil with his father Angus known to everyone as his uncle , who is decidedly odd, but highly intelligent, has a measurement fetish and puts tags on all the furniture and throughout the house He takes a sly delight in thrusting unanswerable questions at his son but then he has personally taken over Frank s education Angus, a Doctor of Chemistry, who worked in the university for a few years after he graduated and now receives royalties for a patent and lies dreadfully Frank soon picked up on this and began going to the local library in Porteneil to check what his father was telling him was actually true Then we have the manic telephone calls from Frank s highly intelligent but also regrettably insane brother Eric, who has escaped from the psychiatric hospital admitted as he had a partiality for burning dogs and is heading home He wants to give his father a surprise and Frank knows that he will make it even though the police are out looking for him Eric appears to be insane than ever and so although he wants to see his brother, Frank is rather disturbed about the idea.
Our hero is also a loner but he still wishes to be accepted into the local community His only friend is a dwarf called Jamie Nevertheless Frank hasn t had it easy in his relatively short life Firstly, he has a physical problem, due to a rather unfortunate accident with a dog that happened when he was three This is also a teenager who feels too fat, he wants to look dark and menacing the way I might have looked if I hadn t had my little accident Looking at me, you d never guess I d killed three people It isn t fair.
My eyes lit up at this Now what s going on here When one of the three murders is committed by Frank, you can see his deductive reasoning there But the author s idea of putting an adder in a child s prosthesis left me spell bound and I actually laughed to my shame.
And secondly, he doesn t legally exist as his father never bothered getting around to registering his birth So Frank has to pretend that he actually doesn t live with his father, is an orphan and just visits from time to time Also, he has to ensure that he s never around when Diggs the local policeman calls He s found to be strange by the locals as his brother Eric went crazy and they wonder whether he will follow in the same direction.
Frank is very intelligent, a thinker and a dreamer but also a plotter He often thinks of death and how this came about with his relatives Leviticus Cauldhame, his uncle, had emigrated to South Africa, and he came to a very sticky, unfortunate end when a crazed homicidal black threw himself, unconscious How could that be Admittedly he was at the police headquarters in Johannesburg from the top storey and fatally injured his uncle who was passing His last words in hospital were My God, the buggers ve learned to fly Admittedly Frank does some bizarre things Well, he s a teenager, a hunter, and a murderer amongst other things and he seems to be living in a continual state of war or preparation for war There s the Bunker, Frank s love of slings and catapults, The Black Destroyer catapult being his favourite bombs, an air rifle, killing whatever comes in his way The wasps though and The Wasp Factory now I found this section fascinating and what a tour de force This is the central part of the book and actually the most puzzling as basically apart from being religious in content, it also involves choice And the different choices for the wasps that enter, admittedly unwillingly into The Wasp Factory, go through some incredible experiences It took me a while to fathom that out.
As for the Rabbit Grounds, well that s excellent even though it s gruesome Frank sees a buck, but this isn t your normal every day buck, no this is an avenging rabbit, determined to perhaps kill Frank Frank is genuinely frightened but Well this has to be read The boy s regret was that his Black Destroyer catapult had been destroyed by this renegade rabbit.
Even though there s violence and cruelty in the book that I abhor, I felt ensnared as the prose is both chilling and yet enthralling There are elements of secrecy and deeply unfathomable aspects that slowly come to light For example, Angus has a study has chemicals, does experiments and he always locks the door Frank is determined to gain access as he s sure there s a secret to be found there Typical teenager though I can recall when I was sixteen and if I wasn t allowed do something, I invariably wanted to, but that s becoming a young adult It used to be called growing up.
Also Frank s love of water, and making dams, then changing them The themes of water and fire flow throughout the book This is also a very energetic, active lad both mentally and physically.
I could also equate to Frank s liking for bombs My elder brother Ken made a bomb when he was about fourteen and blew up the pond in our garden It was a quiet Sunday morning in England and all hell broke loose My father shot out of bed, threw on his clothes and shoes, and chased Ken down the road I laughed and laughed at the time Can you imagine the end result I was also intrigued with this statement by Frank My greatest enemies are Women and the Sea These things I hate Women because they are weak and stupid and live in the shadow of men and are nothing compared to them, and the Sea because it has always frustrated me, destroying what I have built, washing away what I have left, wiping clean the marks I have made And I m not all that sure the Wind is blameless either.
Well that s to be understood, his mother Agn s had left him shortly after he was born his brother Eric s mother, Mary, had bled to death in childbirth because his head was too large Eric suffered from migraine for most of his life, and Frank used to think that the size of his head was the reason he went crazy.
The journeys through life that Angus, Frank and Eric make finally all come together in the most unexpected denouement.
In conclusion, this mind blowing book is ghoulish, and there are unfortunate descriptions on torture and cruelty, but it must be read It s captivating, funny in parts, tongue in cheek, full of black humour, philosophical I could even empathise with the murderer at times, and this is such an excellent book by the late Iain Banks A book that has to be digested in depth Of course, I know how small a piece of land my island is I m not a fool I know the size of the planet and just how minuscule is that part of it I know I ve watched too much television and seen too many nature and travel programmes not to appreciate how limited my own knowledge is in terms of first hand experience of other places but I don t want to go farther afield, I don t need to travel or see foreign climes or know different people I know who I am and I know my limitation I restrict my horizons for my own good reasons fear oh, yes, I admit it and a need for reassurance and safety in a world which just so happened to treat me very cruelly at an age before I had any real chance of affecting it Frank is sixteen years old and lives with his father on an island near a small village in Scotland His father is eccentric, but Frank is something quite different Before I go any further, I should mention that you should start thinking of Frank as quite mad You can even think of him as a psychopath sociopath or whatever term you like to use I prefer bat shit crazy It is not a technical term, but it tends to raise the proper red flags in people s minds I don t know how to put this in any kind of delicate fashion You might take a sip of your coffee or tea that you hopefully have at your elbow because you might feel a sudden dryness of the mouth.
Frank has done something that most people never do in their lifetimes In fact, he has done it three times He has killed people Let me qualify that, he has killed children He has not killed them for the standard reasons, like he needed to keep them quiet because he abused them, or that he was jealous of them, or that he hated them passionately He didn t really need a reason Don t worry, you d probably be perfectly safe quaffing down a beer with Frank or hanging out and watching TV with him because in his own words It was just a stage I was going through Frank is king of his island He has put in his own defense perimeter against encroachment He wages war on rabbits and wasps He has created his own religion He has one friend, a dwarf named Jamie, who sits on his shoulders when he is drinking beer in the local pub He has an older brother, whom he misses and worries about I know this is going to come as a shock, but his brother is incarcerated with the mentally ill Yep, it runs in the family His father, in his hippy anarchist days, never registered Frank with the government, so he can t even prove he is alive If there were a crack in the earth, he d be in it If there were a hole in a tree, he d be in it If there were a place in anyone s heart for him, he d be in it If he keeps his world small enough, he becomes a God.
This is Iain Banks first novel, and some refer to this as a minor masterpiece I m not sure about the designation of major or minor masterpiece when describing a novel A book is either a masterpiece or not Maybe it is a hedge because this is a fine piece of Gothic Horror Genre fiction always makes reviewers squirm a little bit when it comes to using such expansive language as masterpiece This novel creates an unease in the reader, but at the same time the writing compels you to go onward and forward until you hit the tangled web of the first twist only to extract yourself just in time to get gobsmacked by the second twist I purchased this book at Armchair books in Edinburgh, Scotland The store was jammed to the rafters with books It was not surprising that they had a good shelf and a half of Iain Banks novels, as they should After all, he is Scottish born and bred My friend Tiffany McDaniel, who recently released her brilliantly, compelling first novel The Summer that Melted Everything, suggested that if I needed something to read while in Scotland to pick up The Wasp Factory She knows how much I love Poe and Stevenson and all those Gothic macabre elements of novels where nothing is quite as it seems and the reveals are like silent screams that curl my toes and put a shiver up my spine.
Banks knows how to set the atmosphere of a novel The house was dark I stood looking at it in the darkness, just aware of its bulk in the feeble light of a broken moon, and I thought it looked even bigger than it really was, like a stone giant s head, a huge moonlit skull full of shapes and memories, staring out to sea and attached to a vast, powerful body buried in the rock and sand beneath, ready to shrug itself free and disinter itself on some unknowable command or cue.
The house stared out to sea, out to the night, and I went into it Unfortunately, Iain Banks died too young at age 59, but his books will be read for generations and maybe this one will be read even longer than that If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at
Recommended for those who would have enjoyed sitting in the Colosseum watching animals and humans tear each other apart for the entertainment of the bored SPQR Recommended for those who wouldn t have missed spitting in the face of a condemned witch before watching every detail of her skin burning while she s publicly suffering at the stake in the Middle Ages Recommended for whoever needs a bit of sexually motivated, absurd, unrealistic violence every page or two to keep reading Recommended for those who sit in front of brutal computer games and laugh out loud whenever the pressing of a button causes a virtual character to go BOOOOOM , body parts graphically flying over the whole screen Recommended for those who like violence for violence s sake, and who do not need or want any other raison d tre for so called literature.
As for me, I ll make a check on my list of tried and failed to like another hailed mainstream author.