Friday, May 29, 2009

A Scottish blackbird pie

THE CROW ROAD, by Iain Banks (1992). This is by turns a mystery, a family saga, a contemporary love story, a coming of age novel, and a celebration of the soul of Scotland. All baked together under the author's withering, relentless satiric eye for exposing hypocrisy and telling the truth, whatever difficulties that poses for oneself and others. "Crow Road" is both the residence of Rory, uncle of the book's narrator Prentice McHoan, who serves as a role model to the young man as someone who lives relatively free from society's constraints. Prentice's growth throughout the book is in integrating those values with the necessity to work, love, and live in the world. Crow Road is also a symbol of death, as family members one by one succumb to their various fates, to the consternation of Prentice, and the imaginal figure of Rory after his death continues to mediate for Prentice, reminding him of the frailties and glories of the transient present.
This is perhaps the best of Banks' realist novels that I have read, although Whit still may be my favorite. In any case, it is highly recommended. I also liked the BBC miniseries with the same title. It is a worthy adaptation and is well worth checking out on Netflix.

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