The Wasp Factory Paperback – Mar 19 2009
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"I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me."
Those lines begin one of the most infamous of contemporary Scottish novels. The narrator, Frank Cauldhame, is a weird teenager who lives on a tiny island connected to mainland Scotland by a bridge. He maintains grisly Sacrifice Poles to serve as his early warning system and deterrent against anyone who might invade his territory.
Few novelists have ever burst onto the literary scene with as much controversy as Iain Banks in 1984. The Wasp Factory was reviled by many reviewers on account of its violence and sadism, but applauded by others as a new and Scottish voice--that is, a departure from the English literary tradition. The controversy is a bit puzzling in retrospect, because there is little to object to in this novel, if you're familiar with genre horror.
The Wasp Factory is distinguished by an authentically felt and deftly written first-person style, delicious dark humor, a sense of the surreal, and a serious examination of the psyche of a childhood psychopath. Most readers will find that they sympathize with and even like Frank, despite his three murders (each of which is hilarious in an Edward Gorey fashion). It's a classic of contemporary horror. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
A Gothic horror story of quite exceptional quality...macabre, bizarre and...quite impossible to put down―FINANCIAL TIMES
Read it if you dare.―DAILY Express
One of the most brilliant first novels I have come across.―DAILY TELEGRAPH
A brilliant book, barmy and barnacled with the grotesque.―New Statesman
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Top Customer Reviews
The narrator, Frank, is not your average teenager. Not by a long shot. There doesn't seem to be a normal person in his entire family--or what's left of it. An obsessive father with more than his share of issues, an insane brother who has escaped and is returning home, a multitude of bizarre aunts and uncles, a flaky, irresponsible mother, oh, and a brother and two cousins that he killed.
Frank describes the murders in great detail, and also gives us a serious justification for them, all the while mentioning his sanity like it's a given fact. But compared with what is around him, Frank is far from the worst. Isolated on a small island connected to a town via bridge, Frank doesn't officially exist on record. The island is his hunting ground, and he has grown into a large child, complete with even more elaborate games and rituals he can play and perform alone.
It's difficult and perhaps unnecessary to note the lengthy plot, because this is a page turner, though it doesn't present itself as such right away. This is a careful novel that takes it time and reveals it's secrets at an excellent pace. And it has quite a few surprises for the reader.
Personally, I found this novel to be a tremendous influence on Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. I can't recall from the interviews I've read from him, but Ellis must have read this book and read it well before or during his crafting of American Psycho.Read more ›
Unfortunately, while I was reading The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks died.
Troy Parfitt is the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World
Most recent customer reviews
An early master class by the too early deceased giant of European Literature, Iain Banks. RIP.Published 6 months ago by Symington
Banks is an engaging author, probably a very good author (this my first of his books), but this book is terribly disappointing. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Anglobotomy
Delivery was fast and the book itself was really enjoyable, original and engaging.Published 23 months ago by Trevor Strathdee
I couldn't put it down, but I couldn't say that I loved it either. This is one of those rare books that finds a way to fascinate and disgust you at the same time. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2011 by Eternal Decree
Iain Banks was born in Scotland in 1954 and published his first book - "The Wasp Factory" - in 1984. Read morePublished on May 9 2007 by Craobh Rua
I came across this book by accident, finding it at work one night. In about four hours, I had the book read. I read it again the next morning. Read morePublished on June 9 2002 by Alan Papka
one of the few books which can stand up to rereading. the black humour and twisted original plot are never equaled unfortunately in banks subsequent work. Read morePublished on May 10 2002 by simon gurney
This is the first book by Iain Banks and the only one I've read. It is graphically violent and disgustingly twisted. Read morePublished on March 30 2002
This probably would have been better as a short story or novella - hence sometimes you feel like Banks is padding out as if this was an English assignment. Nevermind. Read morePublished on March 29 2002