The Paradigms of Fiction
Mediating the World in the Novels of Iain Banks: The Paradigms of Fiction thus develops a critical paradigm capable of uniting the extremely versatile mainstream production of this Scottish writer.
Chapter 6. Coda: The Quarry
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Banks’s last novel, posthumously published in 2013, eludes easy categorization. On closer examination, it becomes obvious that The Quarry (2013) does not follow one particular spatial paradigm among the four models characteristic of Banks’s mainstream prose but rather fuses them all. As such, it bears a strong resemblance to The Wasp Factory, also echoing other themes and motifs which feature prominently in the blueprint novel – e.g. the father/son relationship, the secluded northern locus, the quest for the feminine, the conflict between rationality and superstition, or the real and the imaginary, and the narrative delivered from the perspective of a socially inhibited youth.
Published several days after Banks’s untimely death of cancer, The Quarry explores the experience of life lived in the shadow of a terminal disease. Its protagonist is an autistic youth who lives with his misanthropic father, Guy, a cancer victim, in a ramshackle house shaken by the activity of the nearby quarry. The plot revolves around a visit of Guy’s university friends, Hol, Pris, Ali, Rob, Paul, and Haze, now in their late thirties, one fateful weekend. Being a courtesy call paid to a dying mate, the group’s arrival is also connected with a search for an old videotape containing, as it is gradually revealed, an embarrassing porn movie which they made as students of the Film and Media Department. As the friends meet again, old grievances and uncomfortable secrets come to light, showing the flimsiness of bonds and loyalties. Contrary to Banks’s initial intention, the...
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