HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Wasp Factory (1984)

by Iain Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,4731921,211 (3.77)1 / 509
Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly. Iain Banks' celebrated first novel is a work of extraordinary originality, imagination and horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; and compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all.… (more)
  1. 142
    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. 30
    God's Own Country by Ross Raisin (Clurb, chrisharpe)
  3. 30
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: children being creepy
  4. 20
    The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (hubies)
  5. 31
    Complicity by Iain Banks (heidijane)
  6. 54
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk (arthurfrayn)
  7. 43
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Grotesqueries, family life and sibling rivalry.
  8. 00
    The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches by Gaétan Soucy (hubies)
  9. 00
    Tan dulce, tan amargo by Roberto Carrasco (nosoyretro)
  10. 12
    The Bridge by Iain Banks (xtien)
    xtien: Banks's debut novel.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

» See also 509 mentions

English (188)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (192)
Showing 1-5 of 188 (next | show all)
I give it the three stars mainly for the prose. This is a solid, well written novel. As for the plot...

Frank's daily routine is interesting. It's even enjoyable. When the routine begins to feel tedious the flashbacks come to the rescue. I enjoyed those short stories in themselves, but they don't seem to throw much light on the main storyline. As far as the main characters are concerned, the flashbacks only made me emotionally undecisive. In some novels this a good thing; the characters' flaws humanize them in the eyes of the reader and they become more approachable. In fact this happens in this novel with frank's father and brother, but not with Frank himself.

Still, I would have given this 4 stars if I got my expected ending. Frank's brother comes home to burn the island. Frank is tragically obliged to kill him, and he promises us that this is his last kill. The events of the actual ending were completely uncalled for, absurd and extravagant. And the self explanatory paragraphs did not help. They never do. ( )
  AminBoussif | Sep 22, 2021 |
From 5 stars, to 2 stars: a great concept, enjoyably written, that nonetheless lacked payoff (either emotional or plot-based). The ending hinged on a very unbelievable revelation that I couldn't buy into and which didn't wrap up all of the interesting elements that came before.


FULL SPOILERS AHEAD:


#

#

#


In addition to all the weird madness going on with his psychotic brother and hideous father, the various animal torture and bizarre oddities product of damaged people, another plot runs through the novel. MC (Frank) has lived his whole life believing he is a young man who was castrated in a terrible accident. This event has shaped his life in a variety of ways.

However, at the end of the novel, Frank discovers that isn't a castrated young man, just a mauled young woman whose father has been giving "her" hormone drugs in a kind of cruel experiment to raise her as a boy. Frank states that what s/he'd assumed was the stump of a penis was actually a clitoris, and this I find difficult to believe.

An anatomy lesson for those who somehow don't know: I would expect most men/boys to have an awareness that they are supposed to urinate through their penis. Women, though, don't urinate through the clitoris. So what on earth s/he thought was happening down there for every toilet trip, I have 0 idea.

Mostly, though, the novel fails to explore that revelation in (for me) a satisfying way. There's a lot of mileage to be gained from examining that situation more, and the person Frank has become or could have been, but it's not really delved into, and that's a shame. That means, too, that the novel feels like it has no pay off, because the other aspects of Frank's life (which are all intensely interesting in their own right) are left unresolved: the revelations about Frank's sex come out of left field, and don't tie up the character development or the unusualness of Frank's horrific family.

The story suffers from one of my biggest pet peeves: it doesn't end so much as simply 'stop' dead.

A real shame for me, because it started off strong and was only let down in the last 10% of novel. Particularly annoying since I feel it could easily have been a longer novel, and resolved those issues through more words (it's quite a slim book, so hardly over-stuffed with story.) ( )
  Sunyidean | Sep 7, 2021 |
This one came as a recommendation from a friend who's opinion I really respect. And they also gave me some insight into what I hadn't considered.

For me, the book was relatively uninspiring, and not really that noteworthy, due to the fact that it just seemed (to me, at least) like a series of anecdotes (going to the pub to drink, hanging out with dad, killing off relatives, etc.), with a looming threat of a returning sociopathic older brother, also likely suffering some sort of PTSD.

In the end, that looming threat was never paid off, and then there was an out of the blue twist at the end that, at least to me, felt partially tacked on. Yes, there were minor hints along the way, but not enough to justify the end.

In the novel's defense, I'll paraphrase what my friend said (and likely bugger it up) so bear with me. In their opinion, there was a subtle misdirection going on throughout the novel. By building on that looming threat of Eric's return, and his over-the-top craziness, it drew the reader's attention away from the more controlled mental impairment of Frank, and his coping mechanisms. He's so matter of fact with his sociopathy that it almost appears relatively normal, so the clues to the end twist are buried a touch deeper.

Regardless, overall I think there were some blatantly ridiculous things that occurred (such as a young child having enough presence of mind to fake mental anguish and catatonia for a week and doing it well enough to fool a doctor).

And for all of you thinking this is the most disturbing book you may have read, you should go read Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door. That one will destroy you. ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
It was ok. Maybe I didn't look into the symbolism as much as I should have? I don't know. Worth a read if you like dark fiction only because it is short. It might make a good David Lynch movie :) ( )
  Drunken-Otter | Aug 20, 2021 |
Oh man, I just don't know where to begin with this one. It was just so weird, sometimes in a good way, sometimes just weird.

I enjoyed the science fiction of Iain M. Banks, so I thought I would read some of his straight fiction. I think I'll need to give another novel a shot before deciding definitively, but perhaps Banks should have been happy with his career as a SF writer.

The story is OK-- there'a a nominal plot that really serves as a frame on which to hang events from Frank's (the main character) life. He's had some events. Oh, Frank has issues. Not least of which, the titular one that I'm still a bit... anyway, by the end of the book I felt like there had been no real purpose, as the payoff came from a completely different direction. Interesting, and to my mind a bit of a relief, the way the story ended, but the whole "waiting for Eric to come home" think seemed like a giant red herring that at the same time wasn't misdirection at all, it just wasn't as interesting as Frank and his...routines.

The ending of the novel really had me scratching my head. It almost felt as if the last chapter was written for potential book clubs, to make sure no one was confused about what Banks had intended the book to mean. Really pedantic and annoying as I am a card-carrying member of the "death of the author" club.

So, I have no doubt I will be thinking about this book for years to come. In fact, I suspect it will haunt me for the rest of my life. That might make it a three normally, but two stars for it's copious, other problems. ( )
  allan.nail | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 188 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Iain Banksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
for Ann
For Adele
First words
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outsIde a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank's mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric's escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother's inevitable return - an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly. Iain Banks' celebrated first novel is a work of extraordinary originality, imagination and horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; and compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.77)
0.5 8
1 41
1.5 9
2 121
2.5 29
3 375
3.5 119
4 626
4.5 91
5 429

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 170,251,404 books! | Top bar: Always visible