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The Steep Approach To Garbadale by Iain…
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The Steep Approach To Garbadale (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Iain Banks

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991298,651 (3.47)32
Member:PreludeAndFugue
Title:The Steep Approach To Garbadale
Authors:Iain Banks
Info:Abacus (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:**1/2
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The Steep Approach to Garbadale by Iain Banks (2007)

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Iain Banks seems always to be at his best when dealing with dysfunctional families, and he certainly returns to form here. The main protagonist is Alban McGill, part of the Wopuld family which owns the rights to "Empire!", an extremely successful game (fairly loosely based upon "Risk", I think). A few years before the novel starts the family had sold a significant portion to the American conglomerate Spraint who now wants to buy out the rest of the family holding. Alban had become dissatisfied with corporate life and had left the firm to work as a logger working on conifer plantations all over Wales and Scotland. As the novel opens his more commercially savvy cousin Fielding has tracked him down to a squat in Perth, and persuades him to come back into the family fold, at least temporarily, to try to lead the opposition to the sale.
Another aspect of the novel at which Banks has always excelled is the use of flashback, often nested within other flashbacks. This can be disconcerting, but it does offer a useful means of conveying a lot of necessary background material without requiring tedious explanatory sections. Through the dextrous application of flashbacks we learn that Alban had been (and possibly still is) madly in love with his cousin Sophie, through he has only seen her two or three times over the last twenty years. He does, however, also have a long-term occasional relationship with Verushka Graef, an academic mathematician based at Glasgow University.
All of the characters are eminently credible, and while the plot unwinds in Banks's characteristically chaotic manner it is never less than engrossing.
He completely sold me the dummy over the ending, too.
All in all a very enjoyable book. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Dec 2, 2012 |
One of his best. Comparable to The Crow Road, a family with dark secrets! ( )
  malcolmcater | Oct 31, 2011 |
Matt Thorne of the Literary Review says this is Banks's most accomplished novel since The Crow Road and I must agree. Once again Banks transports his readers into the complex world of a sprawling Scottish family, and I loved it. A great tale, expertly told, with lots of dry humour to make the bitter medicine (what is the point of everything? is there a point?) go down smoothly.” ( )
  mojacobs | Feb 15, 2011 |
He is good. But I prefer the Sci-Fi of Iain M Banks.

Beautifully written, insightful, by turns amusing and sickening.

I guess I feel a bit disappointed as I think that I should have guessed the plot twist long before I did. Shouldn't that make me more appreciative of the writers craft in managing to surprise me? Well I think he over did it. I feel like I have fallen for a silly street trader rather than an elegant piece of slight of hand. I was too easy for him and somehow that left me annoyed with myself as well as him.

I think all of this says more about me than it does the author. Silly, moody me.

He still manages to bring the grotesqueness of reality into sharp focus and this is a skill for which he is justly revered.

Still prefer the Sci-Fi though. Sulk. ( )
  psiloiordinary | Jul 5, 2010 |
Alban McGill, a member of the Wopuld family which owns a highly successful board game business, is summoned to take part in a family meeting at their Scottish retreat, called to consider selling the company to a big US rival. Alban is disinclined to take part, having resigned from the company and taken up an alternative lifestyle (involving alcohol and other substances) some years earlier. However, he is persuaded, and Banks skilfully builds a depiction of Alban’s former life, including the suicide of his mother, and his relationship with his cousin, Sophie, which, when discovered by his family, is firmly squashed. This well-written novel shrewdly observes a particular facet of British society and comments with insight and humour on a number of social and environmental issues. ( )
  dwate | Feb 23, 2010 |
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Dark family secrets, a long-lost love affair and a multi-million pound gaming business lie at the heart of this Iain Banks' novel.

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