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Iain Banks: A Tribute

It was while out with friends, in a break between an impromptu game of rounders and a very British picnic involving a flask of tea, cherries and little sausages, that I heard the heart-breaking news of the death of Iain Banks.  The strangeness of the contrast between this awful loss and the time and place left me baffled – numb, I took it in in silence, and then put it to one side, to deal with later.  It wasn’t the moment.

Some time has passed and it’s given me a chance to consider the impact that Banks and his work have had on me as a reader, but also as a person, and a citizen of the world; universe, even.  Perhaps that sounds a bit hyperbolic, but in fact, I think my reading of Banks’ incredible fiction, scientific or otherwise, has been fundamentally important. (more…)

BanksRead Review: Surface Detail, by Iain M Banks

surfaceIt begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.
Lededje Y’breq is one of the Intagliated, her marked body being witness to a family shame, her life belonging to a man whose lust for power is without limit. Prepared to risk everything for her freedom, her release, when it comes is at a price, and to put things right she will need the help of the Culture.

It begins in the realm of the Real.
It begins with a murder.
And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. (more…)

World Book Night 2012 – what did you give?

April 23rd is no longer just St George’s Day or the anniversary of the birth and death of Shakespeare; for the last two years, it’s also been World Book Night, where a million books of all genres have been given away free to members of the public around the UK, and elsewhere.

This year, the shortlist was a little longer than in 2011, with twenty-five titles for givers and receivers to choose from. I was lucky enough to have a box full of The Player of Games by Iain M Banks to distribute, AWW originator Rob gave Misery by Stephen King, and on a very rainy evening, we took our novels to The Big BookBang at Slack Space, a not-for-profit arts space in Colchester.  We had the privilege of advocating and reading passages from our books, along with eight or nine other givers.  This was interspersed with an introduction to Book Crossing, plus local poets Fred Slattern and Mark Brayley, some stand-up comedy and even a local author.

Rob was first up to introduce his book. I was the last to advocate their book in person.  The event was really well attended, with over a hundred people braving the dreadful weather to leave with a couple of lovely new free books, as well as some pre-loved copies from the Book Crossing tables at the back of the hall.

The full list of books runs like this:

Which would you have chosen to give away?  Which have you read, and which are still on your list?  Was something missing?
Some of my very favourites are there – Pride and Prejudice, Good Omens and The Time Traveller’s Wife. I would have loved to get a copy of Let the Right One In, as I loved the film.  I’m really looking forward to reading Notes From A Small Island, as Bill Bryson became the Chancellor of Durham University at least in part due to his description of the city’s beauty in this travelogue of Britain.  I would have liked to see a poetry collection on the list somewhere (I gave The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy last year, she’s my idol).
Let us know what you think – what would you like to see there next year?  I’d recommend signing up as a giver, especially if you’ve got a great event in your local area where you can share your books.

Kate Neilan @magic_kitten