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The WASP FACTORY: A NOVEL Paperback – September 10, 1998
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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
The New York Times Brilliant...irresistible...compelling.
Mail on Sunday A mighty imagination has arrived on the scene.
The Financial Times Macabre, bizarre, and impossible to put down.
The Scotsman There's nothing to force you, having been warned, to read it; nor do I recommend it.
Punch The Wasp Factory is a first novel not only of tremendous promise, but also of achievement, a minor masterpiece perhaps.
The Times (London) Rubbish!
Times Literary Supplement A literary equivalent of the nastiest brand of juvenile delinquency.
Daily Express Read it if you dare.
Top Customer Reviews
Frank Cauldhame is a sixteen year old juvenile delinquent with a quirky, to say the least, personality. He's got a penchant for death, destruction, mayhem and mischief. He's also highly superstitious. Combine these aforementioned traits with intelligence, methodicism, and zeal, and you have a potentially dangerous character on your hands. Rather than shy away from this odd hodge-podge of personality traits, Iain banks chooses to dissect them, exploring various nooks and crannies within his book The Wasp Factory.
Among the ranks of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman, and Exquisite Corpse's Andrew Compton and Jay Byrne, Frank Cauldhame calmly and casually admits within the early pages of this book that he has killed three of his family members. From there, the reader follows a day in the life of Frank, in which animal slaughter, war games, and thoughtful introspection are the norm.
However, the eccentricities of Frank and his world would not be complete without and accompanying eccentric family. Frank's father, Angus, is quite and contemplative, exchanging only a few words with his son daily regarding the measurements of household items. Frank's older brother, Eric, however, chooses the more in-your-face approach with which to display his unconventional nature. Eric, placed in an asylum some time ago for setting fire to dogs and forcing children to eat worms, has escaped and spends a good chunk of the book finding his way back home to the family with whom he fits so well.Read more ›
Most everything else about the book annoyed or disappointed me in some way. My appreciation for Frankie's father didn't extend to his brother Eric, who didn't feel real enough and was WAY too cliche-insane, particularly in his (weak) phone conversations w/ Frankie. And Frankie himself didn't feel nearly as fleshed-out as he should've been: he always felt somehow off to me, as if the author didn't quite have a full handle on him.
In general, I liked the ideas and the style of the story, but I didn't like the way the text carried them. The writing felt a bit awkward and tell-tale-ish ("I went to the beach and then I did this and then I got tired so I rode my bike along the creek and when I got to the bump I jumped it like I used to as a kid and finally I got back to the house for lunch and ... etc. etc.) -- and at points it was flat-out boring. The atmosphere of the actual story and the style of the *writing* seemed somehow at odds with each other. I never felt quite as immersed or gripped as I felt I could have been, had the author known how to render his material more effectively.
I found the unusual ending of the book interesting in and of itself, but I didn't feel like the story had really built up to this particular revelation. In general I felt as if Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful adventure into a crazed mind. Very well written and suspenseful to the very end. Banks is a superb author.Published 11 days ago by Dawn Williams
Great book if you like psychotic suspenseful thrillers with a good resolutionPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is a three star book to me. I give it a fourth star because it's forty years old and I try to imagine it was a five star book back then, before we were so desensitized to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brett Michelson
Totally compelling, vivid and disturbing. I'm not sure it would hold up in contemporary views on [SPOILER], but it is wildly imaginative and paced like a first-rate thriller.Published 1 month ago by Ellen Twaddell
The Wasp Factory catches the reader's attention right away- making for a quick read. This book is not for the squeamish but I found it thought provoking and the ending was a nice... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sarah Hartje
Though the writing is fully mature in terms of style, plot, and theme, one gets the sense that this is written almost as some kind of young adult novel. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Phil
In one word: (excellently) weird! Children are supposed to be cute, benign, adorable. Not on this Scottish island though! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer