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VINE VOICEon April 18, 2009
I'm afraid I can't join in the profusion of plaudits of The Crow Road as a literary work, but nor can I dismiss it as being "boring" or "too long" as other readers have. Yes, the book is indeed witty, and I truly don't understand the problems with "Scottish dialect" that other reviewers seem gratuitously to throw into their reviews. One thing that actually kept puzzling me was that there truly wasn't much Scottish dialect or too much British dialect for that matter to speak of herein. The idiom of much of the writing is, in fact, American - perhaps having to do with the fact that Banks spent several years in America before penning this book.

So, what am I to say here? First off, a great many people die unexpectedly, or not so unexpectedly, depending on how one interprets things - Banks leaves this question, delightfully, open-ended. But if you don't fancy pondering your eventual demise, this book is not for you. But what really kept me going was my gradual identification with Prentice Mchoan and his eventual love interest, "Ash" or Ashley. I started to realise, and it began growing on me, that Prentice was coming of age at the same time that I did, springing from the same upper-middle class background, listening to the same music (Morrissey, anyone?), drinking about as much (quite a lot!), and having the same sort of friendships and relations with women that I did, the only difference was that he was Scottish, whilst I was English. It dawned upon me somewhere near the end that this book was a sort of historical artifact of a sensitive, intellectual young man coming of age in Britain at the same time as I (though I didn't have quite so many funerals to attend). For this rather personal reason, the book was significant for me: The late night pub crawls, the hangovers, the drunken (and frequently stoned) commiseration with friends on rooftops, graveyards and other odd places. Above all, the sisterly friends who, ever so gradually, become love interests struck a deep chord. All these interludes were so spot-on to me that when the first Gulf War became obvious as the historical backdrop, I felt so strongly that I was reading about an era in my life and in history nearly two decades past that it was terribly striking. I don't know if the youth of today with their ubiquitous mobiles and text messaging are, in the end, very much different from the youth in the 80's and early 90's in Britain. But cultural differences are bound to exist between different eras. This was my culture, my era. It was interesting. It was awkward. It was weird. We were young!

As for the rest of the "mystery" in the plot and what not, it didn't engage me so much, perhaps for the very reason that the rest of it did. As Prentice's Dad tells him:

"The thing is that because the real stories just happen, they don't always tell you very much. Sometimes they do, but usually they're too...messy." (The ellipsis is Banks'.)

This novel is such a story.
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on July 9, 2012
I learned about this book quite late in my reading of Banks, so I have quite a few later books to compare it to. It strikes a nice balance between narrative and introspection.

The pervasive Scottish environment adds quite a bit of additional color to an already colorful book. The Point Of View (POV) skips around in time, and from character to character, but the effort to follow this is worth doing.

I expect to re-read this several times over the next few years.
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on May 27, 2013
Beware reviews that declare the author is a "phenomenon" (William Gibson), or is an "enfant explosif" (Scotland on Sunday), or "the most imaginative novelist of his generation" (The Times). Or perhaps you just have to beware my reviews.

I doggedly stuck with this novel to the end. Perhaps because I paid full price for it (based on the above plaudits) and thought it might be worth it? Ho hum. Not very believable depiction of two generations of a not very interesting extended family and friends. But, there was one detail I liked. After making unbelievable leaps of logic in deciphering extremely cryptic clues regarding his uncle's disappearance, the protagonist fails to decipher the screamingly obvious clue that seals the deal (so to speak). Or does he? I liked the way the author left this open suggesting that things we get so obsessive about that they take over our lives, and sometimes lead us into near ruin, can also be easily tossed to the wind as if they no longer mattered because some other more interesting pursuit has presented itself.
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VINE VOICEon December 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
This novel almost literally begins with a bang (ahem..) and is a wonderful read all through. I have been a long-time Banks fan - but primarily of his Science Fiction (Consider Phlebas, Player of Games, etc) - so this was one of the first non sci-fi books of his that I read. Since then, I have read many others.
Follow the trials of this eccentric Scottish family, and enjoy the character developement, storytelling, and the ride.
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on November 1, 2008
Crow Road is the peak of Iain Banks' writing career. Above all a coming-of-age story, it is also a mystery, a love story and a compelling reason to begin drinking single-malt scotch. Banks' prose style is never more illustrative, never more evocative as his surgical-steel-tipped pen dances through the dark humor and heart-breaking reality of the tale. Brilliantly funny, desperately true, in these pages Banks describes the best start a man's life could have and sets down the precepts of a new non-religion. I can think of no finer novel of contemporary fiction.

"And all your nonsenses and truths, all your finery and squalid options, comibne and coalesce into one sound..."
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on February 27, 2016
I had some problems with the Scottish, but managed somehow. A good book though worth reading a second time.
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on December 19, 2012
I enjoyed this book so much that I have planend a trip to Oban and started working my way through the rest of Banks' non-sci-fi back catalogue.

This book has a little bit of everything: mystery, magic, mythosaurs and it conveys it all with an intimacy that could only have been enhanced if wee Prentice were telling you the story himself over a dram. BNNever dull and always surprising, this book is definitely worth reading.
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on October 13, 2014
Great story, holds your interest from first page to last. A real peek into day to day life in Scotland.
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on July 6, 2016
A little quirky but all in all a good story
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on December 25, 2016
What a writer. Language: spectacular. Plot : involved. Characters: inimitable. On to another of his books!
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