Book discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 4

Continuing the discussion from Book Discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 3:

We are reading The Quarry by Iain Banks together as a group. Anyone is welcome to join. This is the discussion thread for Chapter 4.

Deadline for Chapter 4 is next Friday, 13th of March, at 12:00 noon GMT. That is when a new thread will be created for the discussion of Chapter 5.

There are no real rules set for the course of discussion. I say good guidelines are: don’t be a dick, don’t spoiler things from further chapters and try to have a real conversation with others.

Now, let’s continue our discussion!

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    continuing on next post…
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… continuing from previous post:
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18. Raita

Chapter 4 Summary:
(to come later)

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Much meatier than the last chapter in my opinion.
Guy’s cancer drugs are unique to this story.

Shame that Hol held off on The Leopard – it’s a decent film, though I’m not sure what Kit would make of it.

Yeah, but their names are fabricated correctly. I almost thought they were just the British equivalent to some of our chemo drugs, that’s how close they sound to accurate!

Hol’s taste in films is very stereotypical for her position. Nothing surprised me there. It’s like Banks looked up a bunch of Best Of lists compiled by film critics and worked from there.

Seems like no one is pretending any more that they’re there for anything other than finding the tape.

Considering the water damage to everything in that house, I would think the tape is ruined anyway.

Anyone else wonder why Kit moved the mattress off the bed frame despite understanding that it was acting as a “floodplain” to keep leaks from going through to his bedroom? That doesn’t seem to fit his personality.


I just keep thinking about all the mold that must be everywhere. Euuuurghghhhghh.



How did I miss that?

Although, it’s possible Brits have some genetic adaption for damp places. I know I’d be sick within hours of arriving.

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I used to live in a house that was in permanent shade for 5 months of every year. Ick.

I think he moved the entire bed, then removed the mattress and put it on the floor back under the leak, so he could use the bed frame to air out the newspapers without anything dripping onto them. He misses realizing that keeping the mattress off the floor allows it to air out and dry more quickly though. Although it didn’t sound like the leak was so bad that it’ll really matter that much.

They were referring specifically to the British Film Institute (BFI) greatest films list, which is fair to say one of the most highly-respected. Hol being a film critic, she would be somebody who votes (I gather it’s like the academy from the academy awards). They vote a new list only every 10 years, which lends it some gravitas.

In 2012 Vertigo replaced Citizen Kane at the top of the list (Citizen Kane held the top spot for decades), which is why those two are discussed in the book. Some of the other movies mentioned are in the top 10 too, and then several in the top 50 too.

I suspect Hol told Kit to hold off on Tokyo Story, number 3 on the list, because it’s about children visiting their dying parent and is very, very sad (though I highly recommend it).

I think the section about their taste in films was quite revealing; Hol does seem fairly stereotypical, but when you get really into film like she has (I took a bunch of film courses at university myself) it’s fairly inevitable. There’s plenty of room for disagreement but the masterworks really stand out when you’re trained to notice.

This compared to Kit, who appreciates a lot of what Hol suggests, but likes Star Wars and superhero stuff way more. That’s partly due to his age, I suppose. But it’s also partly his way of looking at things being different. He notices all the “flaws” in Casablanca (and IMO his analysis of some of the things he points out is just wrong) and finds it hard to look past that to see the overall sweep of the film, which is really wonderful in so many ways. But then likewise, Hol finds it hard to look past what would be considered by serious film critics to be flaws (or at least shortcomings) in Star Wars, and fails to see the overall wonderful sweep of that.

My personal taste is sort of a cross between the two, then. I feel sorry for people who find it hard to sit through long movies, as Kit says about himself, specifically referring to Lawrence of Arabia among others (though he loved The Godfather, also long). Lawrence of Arabia is possibly my favorite film and it just doesn’t feel that long to me (though it is 222 minutes), and couldn’t be a second shorter. I have fallen asleep watching 2001 too though.

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I wonder if playing too much call of duty/company of heros has spoiled me into knowing what an “88” is, and why it’s not a “77”, in a way that’s unfair to the makers of Casablanca,


This was the chapter where I really started to feel worn out by the pettiness of the characters in so many ways, FWIW.


Finished the chapter today, and in an effort to find meaning in the world, finished the book.


So, how’d that work for you?

I am left blinking, wondering what I missed.


I finished it this weekend. Wonder who else?


I subscribe to the phrase, “sometimes you gotta rip the bandage off.”


Yep. Done.


I’m still here. Skipped last week but I’m caught up now.

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I have been dutiful up to this point, but y’all make a lot of sense: for this book at least, going by chapters isn’t really enough. I think I’m going to follow the lead and finish the book as well.

Should we have a vote on whether or not to consider the book fully read by this Friday, and write our comments accordingly, or does anyone feel that continuing by chapter is the way to go?

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well, personally, I faltered even on the chapter-per-week last week. I don’t see me reading the rest in 3-4 days, but I can just join the thread late if y’all decide to. reminder to set y’all’s thread settings to “watching” if your default is not automatic so you don’t miss late comments.

speaking of, I made a late comment on Ch 3 just now in the appropriate thread with a bunch of questions pertaining to understanding some English cultural things, so could UK folks go here and straighten me out?


I had got to chapter 5 by the time we were into chapter 3 and just ran through the rest this past weekend because I was on a plane. I’m for opening it up but don’t want to leave others out. @Raita, are things OK with you? I know you haven’t done the chapter summary but you’ve got a lot going on too.


Personally, I’ve been keeping to the prescribed reading schedule, making myself wait before cracking the next chapter. I like the pace of this club, since I’m busier than I expected to be right now, and the somewhat chess-by-mail pace lets me blow off reading or writing for a day or three if I need to. I’m still going to keep to the schedule. I find the discipline oddly comforting, in part because I so sorely lack discipline in every other facet of my life. But I feel no urge to rush through this book or this discussion.

Still, if the consensus is to get this thing over with faster, then I’ll go with the crowd. But I’m personally happy with the current pace.

As much as I find the characters repellent except for Kit (even Holly appears to be no more than the least-awful of an awful group at this point), I’m still finding the story oddly absorbing (like an old mattress). I really wish I could be there to tell Guy what an intolerable waste of space he is, dying or not. Everyone else in the story seems willing to cut him all manner of breaks because of his condition, but so far I’ve seen absolutely zero evidence that he would have been any more tolerable when he was well, nor does he seem to have grown/matured/learned any hard lessons in empathy or anything at all in his extremity. He’s a shithead now, and seems to have always been one, and I’m gonna spoilertag the following even though I still haven’t read a word of Chapter 5 yet and so this following is purest conjecture, but I can’t see any way this story can end without Guy being tossed ass over teakettle into the deepest pit of the Quarry from a great height, probably by Kit, and I’ll be cheering all the way if there’s even a small chance Kit might get away with it. Don’t tell me if I’m right or wrong. :wink:

I remember reading about that in Slate and Salon. It bugged the hell out of me, since I too think that Vertigo, while a hoot and a half (if a tad too long), isn’t a patch on Citizen Kane. I kinda felt Banks dropped the ball on Hol’s film choices since they do seem so utterly conventional, like she couldn’t have an original idea if she tried and yet still considers herself to be better informed and with better taste than anyone else in the book (with the possible exception of Guy, whom she idolized past all comprehension).