Thursday, April 27, 2017

Inside the Mind of a Sociopath

The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
Wow.  This is an unforgettable book.   It is immersive, confident and...dark;
  • Because the story is told from the perspective of a sociopath, the narrative includes disregard for laws, social mores and the rights of others.  It means, as a reader, spending time with someone who fails to feel remorse and tends to display violent behaviour.  Suffice to say, you'll be reading about unpleasant things in this book. For many, spending any time inside a disturbed mind -- no matter how intriguing -- holds no appeal.  For me it was uncomfortable...but I'd be more concerned if it wasn't.  I think it's a highly memorable, thought-provoking, interesting perspective. 
  • In terms of form, the switching tenses are a tad irritating (action occurs in the present but thoughts and impressions seem to be in the past -- loosely; the inverse of what you might expect if it were a recount, say).  
  • There is swearing and violence (including cruelty to animals).  There are crude insertions now and then which fuel the unpleasant atmosphere.  The narrator is also a misogynist.
  • The opening gambit of the story promises horrors, which are delivered as measured, macabre reveals throughout.  I read for the reveals -- given in flashbacks -- and I read fast.  I found it very compelling.
  • I was surprised by a number of things when they occurred (such as how late The Wasp Factory's details were explained), but having finished the work, many if not all of these choices seem right and justified.
I wouldn't call this a book I loved but I would say it is a book that is very well done and interesting.  The isolation and seemingly rightness of wrong logic reminded me of Lord of the Flies, and some of the retelling shared aspects of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time -- in that both allow access to minds rarely granted the fore.  I liked it more than Lord of the Flies.  If you enjoy dark and different narration, and these two titles appeal/ed to you, The Wasp Factory needs to make your TR list.  

NB:  I read this on the strong recommendation of a young woman from church.  I was horrified as I turned each page, bearing her in mind as an enthusiast.  When I finished and reported as much to her, she said, "Oh, I've never read it!"  *blink blink*  It was her mother who loves the book, and she'd recommended it on that basis.  And her mother enjoying it makes perfect sense.  I would not recommend this for YA at all.  NA, maybe.
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