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Live and let die

Black humour in Iain Banks' final work brings light to the darkness of death

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  • Newspaper section: Life
  • Writer: Michael Ruffles
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This really shouldn't be so much fun. Iain Banks' last novel, on the shelves in the weeks after he died of cancer on June 9, is about, yes, a guy dying of cancer. And at a relatively young age, like the author, which should make it all the worse. That The Quarry is engaging and even amusing until the prosaic and inevitable end is a measure of Banks' skill, and why he will be missed. 

The Quarry By Iain Banks 326pp Little, Brown paperback 474 baht at Kinokuniya

The story is told from the point of view of Kit, an intelligent but emotionally stunted 18-year-old man-child who has an unspecified disorder somewhere near the mild end of the autism spectrum. His father, Guy, is the one dying, ranting against the "unwilled suicide" of a disease he clearly hates and swears ineffectually at. The action is distilled into a weekend as six friends from their university days gather at Guy's equally decrepit country home, where they had lived together 20 years earlier.

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