Book Discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 3


#23

Certainly hope so. Dear gods, what a tedious bunch of myopic cretins.

The sole saving grace of all three chapters so far is that it’s sparked some great conversation to listen in on. This really isn’t the sort of thing I’d read and had it not been for you folks, it would have bounced off the wall on the way to the charity box. So I’m sticking with it in the hope that something, anything will actually happen.

Bad prose snipped. There’s maybe a NaNoWriMo in it and you lot don’t need my drivel stinking up this thread.


#24

[quote=“SmashMartian, post:23, topic:52717”]
The sole saving grace of all three chapters so far is that it’s sparked some great conversation to listen in on. This really isn’t the sort of thing I’d read and had it not been for you folks, it would have bounced off the wall on the way to the charity box.[/quote]

General question - do you give up on books you aren’t getting on with? I tend to read them to the bitter end even if I don’t like them.

I took a couple of goes to get into Nostromo, but it was worth it, and I didn’t get very far into Also sprach Zarathustra (I will try again) but that’s about all I can think of.


#25

Yep. Doesn’t happen often, though. The lack of sympathy with the characters and the overwhelming amount of drear in this are really starting to piss me off.

If it’s just difficult or complex reading (like Also sprach Zarathustra) I’ll keep worrying at it if I feel like there’s going to be a payoff.
I’ve got through some great books that way. Did War and Peace on a long-haul flight, Crime and Punishment while commuting and Ulysses during a holiday in the mountains. (And thoroughly recommend that method. Peace and quiet, enough Jameson to stun a whale, fresh air and great views. )

On the other hand, I’ve never managed more than a chapter or two of anything by Barbara Cartland.


#26

I’m totally in agreement!


#27

I’m more intrigued by the thought that you’ve STARTED anything by Barbara Cartland. :stuck_out_tongue:


#28

@Raita, and anyone else for whom English is their second, third, or fourth language…

There was one groaner of a joke in this chapter that as the resident vegetarian I had to snort at, and having lived in other countries myself I know that understanding humor in a foreign language is very difficult, so I’m going to explain it.

There is an expression, often used with young adult males, that they will have sex with “anything with a pulse”. This means, anyone physically alive (heart still has a pulse).

In the U.S., we generally think of lentils as simply lentils, but in Britain they are more often referred to by their genre: they are a pulse rather than a bean.

So, when Hol talks about Guy and Rob rivaling each other in their respective bedrooms while Haze was just as obsessive but in the kitchen, and tells Kit that she used to say the three guys were “all just the same, really; anything with a pulse”, pausing to smile but Kit doesn’t react, he’s just missed a word-play type of joke that she was once proud of.


#29

I missed that one too, and was wondering if somehow Haze was getting laid while occupying himself in the kitchen. Thanks for the clarification! One reason why I’m still a bit hesitant to call Banks a total fraud with this book is that I strongly suspect that there are several things like this that whoosh over my head, due to various cultural and educational differences between me and Banks and his intended audience.

I sometimes give up if I’m getting bogged down. Sometimes I just put them aside for a while (took me two or three tries to finish LOTR, since I’d get bogged down in excesses of elvish and dwarvish history in The Two Towers, but I finally finished it for the first time in 12th grade, and have thoroughly enjoyed subsequent re-reads), other times I just forget about it. I rarely give up on a book with the intention of giving up forever, but as life gets shorter everyday, I’m less and less inclined to pick up something I tossed aside in frustration once before. I used to kinda hate-read through some books I didn’t like (like The Ruins and The DaVinci Code and Wicked and the first Hunger Games book), but I was younger and had more time to waste back then, and also most of those books at least had plots that moved merrily along, even if the actual prose was execrable.

I don’t think I’ll finish Mr Mercedes. I’m about 150 pages in, and so far it really seems perfectly happy to waste my time and attention. Fuck Steve King when he does that. He knows better.

I don’t mind it all that much yet. It’s a pretty quick read for me (each chapter only seems to take an hour or so), and I still think Banks must be going somewhere with it. The classmates are mostly miserable fucks (Guy king among them) and I imagine they’ll all have miserable lives after the book ends (those who survive, that is, if there happens to be any misfortune lying in wait in future chapters for any of them), so I don’t care about them, but I do want to see Kit get out from under this burden and see what he makes of it all.


#30

Anything in the name of research. :slight_smile: Even read the odd Mills & Boon, which at least doesn’t pretend to be anything other than pulp, can be B-movie funny and are mercifully short. Cartland is just ponderous and overblown bad. It’s “Ishtar” to the M&B’s “Beach Blanket Bingo”

I always thought King was best when his stuff was brutally edited. He’s got a knack of writing fleshed out characters but that doesn’t need to include the mailman, the bloke in the petrol station and the woman sat at the traffic lights three cars ahead.
Oi, King!

Here’s hoping. :wink:

I don’t think the episodic reading is helping me much, along with whatever expectations I had from the author’s name. Had I read this through in an afternoon, I would probably have shrugged, said “meh” and moved on. So I’ll try that, I think. Eat the rest of the book and see if anything happens in it.


#31

So far, the only characters the book is really fleshing out fully is Kit and Hol, with some character development for Guy, I think. Maybe this is why they seem less relatable?


#32

Right, I think that’s kind of the point, that because we are sort of viewing this through Kit, we are seeing things like this, that he might not fully understand, through his eyes.


#33

And we must remember that Kit is Guy’s son. Whatever Kit might feel towards Guy, a lot of what he knows and feels about Guy’s old school mates comes from Guy. Of course, Hol might have influenced his views somewhat, but it’s mostly Guy.

So while Kit is reliably narrating what is happening and what is being said, he probably misses a whole lot of subtext (which can completely change not only the tone but the core idea of what is said). And the subtext that he is able to deduce/guess is influenced by being raised buy Guy. A reliably unreliable narrator, if there ever was one.

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but that is what keeps me intrigued about the book (some seem to be just annoyed with it). Kit’s narrating, his way of viewing the world, what he knows and doesn’t know (not only his AS but also his upbringing by Guy) and how all that gives a unique view of the rest of the characters. It doesn’t bother me if the other characters seem unlikeable (or if I ever find out definitely how likeable they really are), what I’m interested is seeing this chain of events from the point of view of someone with a different way of seeing the world - and not as some grand example of autism that is supposed to definitely explain it to the world, but as just as one complex character whose condition is not the center of the story but instead surrounds everything that happens. It’s like living in water instead of air; the refraction of light changes, as does the speed of sound waves and so on.

Okay, I’m at the point where I’m starting to make analogies that only make sense to me so I know it’s time to stop blabbering.

Note about tomorrow:
Tomorrow, the thread for chapter 4 will be created one hour late so around 13:00 / 1 PM GMT. This is because my school ends at 12:00 GMT (14:00 / 2 PM my time) and it takes me around one hour to get home and settled in enough to create a thread. I doubt anyone is particularly bothered by this fact, but I still wanted to give a head ups.


#34

I agree, this is the main thing keeping me interested at this point, but it’s sort of turning into an extended character study rubbing up against the alleged forward movement of the narrative. Which doesn’t feel like it’s doing that much moving, TBH - I suppose there’s another theme; people being stuck in place. Guy “got stuck” with Kit, Kit is certainly stuck with Guy. Only Rob and Ali have really “gotten out” - Hol seems stuck in her work, Haze is still stuck in college, and Paul and Pris are really sort of enigmas in a lot of ways though Pris got a boyfriend out of the group finally, I guess.

Also, my high school English teacher would kill me if I didn’t mention at this point: The Title.

Quarry - “a place, typically a large, deep pit, from which stone or other materials are or have been extracted.”

The house is a kind of “pit” from which Kit is trying to “extract” himself (a chip off the old block?) while the others try to extract the videotape. Kit wonders if some or all of them are trying to extract resources from Guy upon his death.

Kit has also been using HeroSpace as a kind of “quarry” or mine - he’s been essentially extracting resources from the game to turn into money in real life.

But also:

Quarry - “a hunted animal; prey; the object of pursuit.”

The videotape.
The truth about Kit’s mum.

Is Guy the quarry of Death, so to speak? Or is he hunting Death?


#35

Anecdotally, based on people I know, there may be some truth to that :wink: Also truthful sounding is his half-hug (which I could picture though you said you had a hard time imagining it, maybe the use of language). Touching etc. has to be on the AS person’s terms to be fully embraced (pun).

Here’s how I see it - and how I think others might be seeing it too. It might actually be an age thing. These people are like people I know or have known. They were cool in college, and were close friends, but they’ve all moved on… mostly to successful lives (Haze notwithstanding) so there was little reason to hold on to all that. They lost their connection to each other, for the most part.

So when they get back together - for what we’re assuming is a selfish reason - they end up faking still being close friends. This is what led to them trying to take Guy up the stairs (this is all my analysis, could be wrong). They got this great idea because it is like something they used to do in college… and maybe it was all fun and games then, but it’s different now… they’re not still close in the way they were (which makes things like that OK, within reason), and they’re not young and fit either (especially Guy, obviously).

So like I said, they’re faking it, and hoping that getting drunk and having a good time will bring back the feeling of close friendship they once had. You can’t fault them for getting together one last time, but their motivations (as best as we can tell) and their actions are not good. I may have exaggerated by saying they’re horrible nasty people it’s just that when you know people like this in real life you get annoyed :wink:

Also, interesting that they’re all faking, considering that Kit fakes so much as a matter of course. Of course, Kit is taking everything at face value, so doesn’t realize it.


Book discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 4
#36

That makes much more sense and I agree with you for the most part. That’s sort of what I was trying to say, too; that they’re all drawn together by circumstance yet have grown apart, which is a difficult situation (especially with a person like Guy being the “circumstance”) and the way they’re coping with it seems understandable to me; making the kind of quibs they did, acting as though they’re good old friends and it’s still just like back in the day, but without the current friendship their words and actions might be all wrong and even come out mean-hearted. I don’t think any

But as you said, I have no personal experience of such situations, of meeting old school friends, so maybe I don’t understand (quite like Kit).


#37

New topic for chapter for has been created here.


#38

So, I caught up thru chapter 4 late last night, but I’m bringing up my ch3 commentary here in the appropriate thread–seems more proper.

I wanted to talk about Rick, Pris’ new boyfriend, because I wanted the UK-dwellers to help me understand some things. Kit didn’t/couldn’t make it too obvious, but it seemed like the subtext was that Rick was from a whole different scene. The first paragraph says he’s bulky, shaved head, leather bomber, and something called a “farmer’s shirt” in yellow. Bulky/shaved head makes me think that while Guy’s crowd were young, creative humanities majors, Rick was a skinhead/soccer hooligan type of guy. the later dialog infers that he’s not well-educated (the porter/stout thing, the newspaper he reads–which I kind of got since I read BoingBoing-- and he says the gang sounds like Monty Python,) although he is a telephone engineer. Is “telephone engineer” blue-collar, laying cable and installing machines, or white-collar, at a desk doing networking/IT? Kit also says that “He sounds like he’s from Essex but in fact he’s from Kent,” which means absolutely fuck all to this Yank, except that he’s adopted the accent of a scene he identifies with? Kit later mentions that Rick seems like the kind of person who would say “fink” rater than “think” but that he never actually did so, which implies that he’s respectable and can blend into “normal” society despite appearances/background. So, this is the Jocks-vs-Geeks trope, except they’re all middle-aged now and respectable? UK folks, am I interpreting this right?

another confusing thing: when Rick bows out of the group to meet his friend, he says the friend has a “rod” for him, but I think Paul or Rob mentions fishing and Rick says it isn’t that kind of rod. Well, in the US, “rod” can be your cock or old-school slang for a gun, but neither of those fit the context. I’m missing something here. Probably not important, but it irks me.


Book discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 4
#39

Fink dat’s spot on, mate. Rick’s the type of chav that would prefer an Arsenal match to a right proper film.


#40

Nah, I saw it as more of a class thing. Telephone engineers would be skilled blue collar, likely have done some sort of apprenticeship/tech college rather than Uni. An Essex/estuary-ese accent is seen as lower class, much in the same way as Bronx would be. Not redneck, but not nearly proper spoken. Defo not a poncey academic wanker.

IRL my accent has a large chunk of Estuary in it, mutated by generic North England, Aussie, NZ and a couple others. I drop letters and F-bombs like a pissed-up tradie with a wobbly hod drops bricks. :smiley:

It’s fun watching how people react to accents. A good mate of mine has the thickest Essex accent I’ve ever heard, swears more than I do (which actually takes some doing. I’m only polite company in text.) and happens to be the most knowledgeable and incisive person I’ve ever met on the subject of art history.
Going to a gallery with her is an awesome experience.

Didn’t spot that. The reference that I saw (p 114 or thereabouts) context shows that it’s fishing.


#41

Ok, I wasn’t seeing it as a class thing since I’m not tuned into the class distinctions in England. I thought maybe Guy’s crowd might be working-class folks who were the first generation able to get into uni (a non-prestige one, since I only knew Oxbridge as the posh ones) and moved on up, in US speak. This is a thing in the US, but not always. I tend to correlate progressive politics with working class, but that may not really be accurate even here in the US.

maybe I read it wrong. checking…

Oh, @SmashMartian, Paul says “a bit late for fishing” and Rick says “not for night fishing,” but I read it as “it’s not for fishing,” or maybe “not fishing tonight” by mistake. my fault, nevermind.


#42

Just my interpretation and IME the Sports vs. Sciences dynamic wasn’t as pronounced as others, such as Rich/Poor, North/South, Posh/Common, Grammar School/Secondary Modern etc. This may have changed.
There can be a lot of undercurrents going on in stuff like that and it’s difficult to pick on one with such one-dimensional characters like these.