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Canal Dreams Paperback – January 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Abacus (2006)
  • ISBN-10: 034910171X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349101712
  • ASIN: B003X80FAQ
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,430,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

It didn't even have a character you could dislike.
jamesa31
It's beautifully written and there are some imaginative and insightful descriptions, both of the main character in particular and of events as they occur.
David Brookes
All we get is a thin plot (and predictable, too), with even thinner protagonists.
T Galazka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Caesar on June 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although this is one of his weakest works, it's still Banks. And he really is a good writer.
Notably, there's plenty of reference in the novel to Japan. From my experience of having lived in Japan for some time, learning the language, culture and way of thinking, I notice that sometimes Banks is a little Orientalist in his references to Japanese culture. There are plenty of exotic cultural and by-the-numbers historical references to, for example sumo, samurai, the atomic bombings, student riots of the 60s and some textbook Japanese psychology. However, this seems to me to be like a garnish added to make it more believable to people who know little about Japan. Like another reviewer pointed out, it's like Banks wants to show his knowledge to the reader, but the effect is that the work has been written by Banks without having in-depth experience of the country and people and results in a gentle stereotyping.
However, Banks is an intelligent, reflective and enjoyable writer and I did enjoy the book. It's true that some of the characterisations are rather undeveloped but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad book. In particular, the unusual pacing is such that the narrative lulls for a while, relaxing, and then suddenly surges to an explosive but emotionally-stunted conclusion.
Banks is a writer that doesn't seem to tread old ground, creating surprising and thought-provoking fiction. I reckon that for those who like Banks work, it'll be 50-50 for whether you enjoy this or not, but I do recommend you try it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on August 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Banks' first novel, The Wasp Factory, was a surprise within a surprise--a well-written horror novel that was also a well-written "mainstream" novel. Since then, Banks has continued to surprise mainstream readers with surrealistic novels like Walking on Glass and The Bridge, as well as surprising science fiction readers with intelligent space opera like Consider Phelbas and The Player of Games (Banks' space opera compares favorably with Hyperion by Dan Simmons).
In Canal Dreams, Banks revisits the type of realistic horror found in The Wasp Factory. Hisako Onada is a Japanese cellist who refuses to fly, yet wishes to tour Europe. Her agent books her passage on a Japanese freighter, and she gets caught up in a revolution when her ship becomes trapped in the Panama Canal. That's one part of the story. Another story line explores Hisako's background, from the sacrifices that her mother makes early on as she makes it clear that she wishes to play the cello, through the very rigorous Japanese education process, to joining a major Japanese orchestra. The background serves as an important counterpoint to the other storyline, explaining that her refusal to fly is based on a true phobia. Banks is pointing out that phobias are irrational fears, that have no bearing on the bravery or bearing of the person. When the realtime storyline turns wicked, one isn't surprised at Hisako's actions or her ability to weather hardship.
Banks' horror is like Stephen King's Firestarter without the pyrokinetic, or Thomas Harris' Silence of the Lambs without the psychopaths. Canal Dreams is a novel about the kind of horror seen all too frequently in the news, and occurs even more frequently in the real world. And that is true horror.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By fbuscha@hotmail.com on September 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading this book. This was one of the first Iain Banks novels which I read and I really liked it. Now, with hindsight, I must say that my opinion is that it certainly isn't his best, but good nontheless. If you've never read Banks before and enjoy intellectually stimulating novels, then I'd recommend A Song of Stone or State of the Art. If you just want a nice cosy book which is exciting fun to read and which is more intellectually written than you're average Hollywood Movie/Book, then buy this. Good for long journeys.
One other thing. All these people who just say "This book is pants, or bollocks!" to any book, should try writting one themselves. You might not like the book, and there is certainly no author around who can't accept that some people didn't like their book, but I believe each author deserves respect for what they wrote. Especially somebody like Iain Banks who perhaps doesn't writes nice and easy children books, but incredibly fascinating and encapturing books. I certainly enjoy the way when he changes his style of writing. Take Feersum Endjinn, Inversions, A Song of Stone, Use of Weapons, and more.
Iain Banks is cool and I hope he writes many more books in the future.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Sorry, but this is really poor. How disappointed was I? Enormously. This reads like 'Iain would really like one of his books to be made into a film, so keep it nice and simple'. None of the usual dark humuor, or the subtle twists that make him a page turner. Just a dull, 'thriller'. Buy anything else by Banks (trust me!), but avoid this.
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By real7a on February 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Finally I've found some time to review the books bought on vacation. Iain Banks' "Canal Dreams"- A very tough book, the first third it's difficult not to fall asleep and then impossible to put aside. It's a long time since I read non fiction works, pleased with philosophical moments: music, life and the difficulties :) #book #ebook
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