I nearly stopped reading The Quarry by Iain Banks after a few chapters because I couldn’t get into the story. I’m not sure why I persevered, but after only a couple more chapters my opinion had reversed, feeling grateful I hadn’t put this book aside.
The Quarry tells the story of a single weekend, from the point of view of Kit, an eighteen year old English boy. Kit is autistic, a socially inept genius, whose father, Guy, is dying of cancer.
On the weekend of the story, a group of Guy’s old friends come to stay. The weekend is a chance for Guy and his friends to remember the glory days of their friendship, when they shared a house while in university. During this time they made films together, but Hol is the only one still working in the film industry, as a critic. Paul became a lawyer, Rob and Ali are in business, Pris is a needy, single mother and Haze is a drop out and drug addict. Guy’s friends also have an ulterior motive for visiting, which is to find a particular movie they made together, which has the potential to embarrass or even harm their careers and family lives if it were to become public.
As I said earlier, the characters and story grew on me the more I read. Kit is a likeable character and I could come around to his way of thinking, which is slightly different to the norm. For example, I’ve never thought of my age metrically before, but Kit’s way is such a satisfying way to measure age and time, (for the record, I’m 4.5 decades old). All of the characters drink too much, use drugs and do stupid things. Their behaviour is selfish, mean and cruel. They are also generous, loving, funny and interesting.
Guy is the most interesting character. He is angry about dying, and rants and raves and says terrible, unkind things to Kit, who he is dependent on. Guy’s behaviour is understandable, but I hated him for his behaviour towards Kit. More than anything, I wanted Guy to tell Kit the truth about who his mother was, something Kit should know. Instead of telling Kit the truth, Guy suggests that Hol or Ali or Pris might be Kit’s mother.
The story is full of clever and funny observations and situations. Hol made a comment about girls being swept off their feet and ending up on the backs, which left me snickering. This may seem obvious, but the idea was new to me, and funny because it is true. Hol also tells Kit that just because you can trust a person with your life, that doesn’t mean you can trust them with your money, rang true also.
The Quarry had a happy-sad ending, which was probably inevitable, although the story is quite satisfying in that all of the loose ends are tidied up. I haven’t read any other books by Iain Banks before, but will actively look for others.