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The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
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The Wasp Factory (1984)

by Iain Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,5961601,113 (3.8)1 / 454
Recently added byErina39, livnahsbooks, Marmie7, Wordsalad, amerynth, laach, sm664, uemmak, private library, jamescfm
  1. 131
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (taz_)
    taz_: I suspect that Iain Banks' "Wasp Factory" character Frank Cauldhame was inspired by Shirley Jackson's Merricat, as these two darkly memorable teenagers share a great many quirks - the totems and protections to secure their respective "fortresses", the obsessive superstitions that govern their daily lives and routines, their isolation and cloistered pathology, their eccentric families and dark secrets. Be warned, though, that "The Wasp Factory" is a far more explicit and grisly tale than the eerily genteel "Castle" and certainly won't appeal to all fans of the latter.… (more)
  2. 40
    God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (Clurb, chrisharpe)
  3. 20
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: children being creepy
  4. 31
    Complicity by Iain Banks (heidijane)
  5. 53
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (arthurfrayn)
  6. 10
    The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (hubies)
  7. 33
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Grotesqueries, family life and sibling rivalry.
  8. 00
    Tan dulce, tan amargo by Roberto Carrasco (nosoyretro)
  9. 11
    The Bridge by Iain Banks (xtien)
    xtien: Banks's debut novel.
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English (158)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (160)
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
I didn't particularly enjoy Iain Banks' novel "The Wasp Factory" though it had some interesting ideas and elements, it was just way to dark and disturbing for me. Thankfully, it was short enough to power through quickly.

Frank is a psychopath who murdered three of his young relatives before the age of 10. He's apparently over that whole murdering streak now and spends his time torturing small animals. Fun reading, this stuff.

I thought Banks did a good job building characters and putting together quirks and reasons for their actions-- it just isn't the type of book I have any interest in reading. ( )
  amerynth | Aug 13, 2018 |
A terrific novel, macabre, intense, and genuinely disturbing. Banks takes you convincingly inside the head of an utterly amoral sixteen-year-old boy living nearly alone on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland, awaiting the return of his brother, who has escaped from a mental institution. It reads like an exceptionally intelligent and unblinking thriller, but is most definitely not for the squeamish. ( )
  MikeLindgren51 | Aug 7, 2018 |
Sixteen year-old Frank Cauldhame lives an unusual existence on a small island in Scotland. As far as Frank knows a childhood injury sets him apart from others – he considers himself half a man. His father, the only other inhabitant of the island, is brilliant and perhaps insane. The same can be said of Frank’s brother, Eric, who is currently on his way back to the island after escaping from a mental institution. Eric is known for settings dogs afire and putting worms in children’s mouths. Actually, Frank is cut from the same cloth.

Frank has an active, if disturbing, life on the island, full of rituals, secrets and routines. In fact, there are many secrets in the story, most released in dribs and drabs, as Banks sees fit. As Eric approaches home – and calls Frank to let him know – the tension, both on the island and in the story – mounts. And the secrets are revealed. And the madness is revealed. There’s a ton of madness packed into this story. ( )
  Hagelstein | May 31, 2018 |
Mad Scottish bastard owning a Scottish Island! Immediately thought of the wars of the one-eyed woman. The MacDonalds and MacLeods negotiating a truce with the marriage of a daughter to a son. After a year Margaret had somehow lost an eye and was landed back on Skye and sent to Dunvegan sitting backwards on a one eyed horse, accompanied by a one eyed servant and a one eyed dog. And the wars started again.

However much torture and abuse Iain Banks stuffs into his tale - the historical reality of life in the Highlands and Islands can trump it. I don't really enjoy the details of the gothic horror but give him another half star for the brilliance of the telling of this story. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | May 27, 2018 |
It’s rare when I end up loving a book that is branded by so many as weird, macabre and outlandish. In fact, these are descriptions that typically deter me from picking up a book in the first place. I’m glad I wasn’t dissuaded from reading “The Wasp Factory.” Although it certainly lives up to its macabre label, it is also a stunning and beautifully told tale that paints vivid portraits of some of the most memorable characters you’re likely to encounter. True, some of the twists in this compelling story require the reader to suspend reality – or at least look at reality through a different prism. But Banks delivers a terrifying and immensely entertaining work. ( )
1 vote brianinbuffalo | Apr 12, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 158 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain Banksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped.
Quotations
Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I'd disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more or less on a whim.

That's my score to date. Three. I haven't killed anybody for years, and don't intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through.
Eric was crazy all right, even if he was my brother. He was lucky to have somebody sane who still liked him.
After I'd come to understand evolution and know a little about history and farming, I saw that the thick white animals I laughed at for following each other around and getting caught in bushes were the product of generations of farmers as much as generations of sheep; we made them, we moulded them from the wild, smart survivors that were their ancestors so that they would become docile, frightened, stupid, tasty wool-producers. We didn't want them to be smart, and to some extent their aggression and their intelligence went together.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684853159, Paperback)

"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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Frank, a disturbed boy who lives alone with his father, creates a bizarre fantasy world for himself which includes strange rituals and murder.

» see all 4 descriptions

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