Book discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 7

Continuing the discussion from Book discussion - The Quarry - Chapter 6:



AUGH AUGH AUGH Iain Banks, I am going to dig up your corpse and drop kick it into the fucking quarry, you bastard! Because what the HELL was that bullshit ending? “I recorded bad stuff but then I erased it and I really love you guys THE END.”



I know…

I’m in two minds abut this whole book. Having read properly smart literary folks take on it, I’m feeling like I’m just not clever enough to get what they found.

OTOH, I’m thinking, WTF, is this the literary equivalent of a fucking RickRoll or something?

I dunno. Either way, I’m coming away feeling dumber than when I started.


Iain Banks, you’re wrong. There is such a thing as a lowercase number. We just use uppercase numbers most of the time.


Maybe we’re too much like Kit to understand the book.


The mustard gas/chemotherapy thing


Nah. I’ll tell you something, though.If it wasn’t for that fact that it’s a fictional address*, I’m half bloody tempted to head down to Maroombah to tell someone about the value of contraception and how much arseache she could have saved us all.

Not that it’s her fault, but I do feel she should be aware of what her actions have caused.

*Maroombah is not a real place and the postcode is one of those reserved for PO Boxes and the like.


some of favorable reviews of the Quarry mention Bank’s treatment of “Cancer as a character.” Dunno about that.


So, Guy convinces everyone to make a porno. Likely some drug-addled gangbang.

A lesser known member of the troupe, Ms. Elisabeth McKelvie (they call her Liz), has the misfortune of catching the preggers. Only she doesn’t know the father, so she puts the blame, and responsibility for raising the child, on the director and ring-leader. Of course it’s all Guy’s fault, all the drugs, all the dumb movies, all the capers, always Guy’s big idea.

Ms. Elisabeth McKelvie cuts ties with this sad bunch of assholes and goes on to have a wonderful life. Bravo.

Guy never really bonds with baby Kit because Kit could be Rob’s or Haze’s or Paul’s seed. I’d imagine my social skills would be really fucking sub-par if I were raised by a distant narcissistic drug abuser in a remote country house with few neighbors, few friends, and no female role models. (aside from the occasional Hol visit, which is why Kit loves her so).

Eventually, Kit starts looking enough like Guy that Guy accepts it was probably his sperm. Still, let’s do a DNA test.

Guy doesn’t tell Kit about his real mother because Guy wants to keep Kit around. Of course Kit would have traveled across the world to find his mother, and, once finding her both would bond over how much of an asshole Guy is. (In THAT version of the book, Liz offers to take Kit in. Kit, with his only real belongings in HeroSpace, stays in Australia, calls himself Krash Martian. and never visits Blighty again. Guy faces cancer alone and his long-suffering housekeeper finds his body 3 days after Guy had a slip and fall in the loo.)

Realizing he will die soon, Guy worries about not being able to control, boss around, and berate anyone anymore. He stumbles upon the old porn tape, which he forgot about (honestly most of them did they were so fucked up during filming and then too embarrassed after that to ever ask to re-watch the thing). AH-HA, a plan. Guy records over the sextape his departing unkind shot at each of his old friends. Then, he contacts each of them.

Ring ring


“Hi Pris, this is Guy.”

“Wow, I haven’t heard from you in 10 years.”

“Yeah, I got to thinking about old times, remembering that porno we made…”

“OMG I barely remember that and didn’t think there was a copy left!”

Only we don’t ever get to see just how horrible of a monster Guy is because the lazy fucking author erased that tape too.

The only reasonable “take home message” of this book is:

Be careful if you get cancer, because cancer can turn you into an asshole. Not always, but when it happens it is not pretty.


I think your write-up is pitch perfect and 100% kee-rect. My only modification would be “cancer won’t save you from being an asshole, and might in fact turn you into an even bigger one.”

Most of me doesn’t want to waste my time doing so, but part of me wants to read those positive reviews to see how people justify this virtually pointless, meandering book. Was it initially conceived to be the dreary wankery it ended up being, or did Banks lose his way and eventually give up?

Do you have any of those “properly smart” takes handy to forward along? I can’t imagine what they might be. I’m neither particularly well-educated, nor even a little well-read, but jeez, I can tell when a book has no plot to offer, nor any deep characterization, nor even fascinating prose to while away the time between page-turns. I mean, each paragraph is perfectly well-constructed, but the whole thing adds up to a long series of paragraphs that take a turn around a dreary garden, look into a hole, then plod right back to where they started. Christ, it felt like nothing more than a typing exercise. I’m leaning more toward the RickRoll than thinking I’m not clever enough.

Then again, I have similar opinions about both Fargo (the movie) and 30 Rock. It doesn’t feel like I don’t get them, so much as it feels like there’s very little there to get. I understand what happens, I get the jokes, I find them oddly tedious or forced or puerile, and what I don’t get is why so many people whose opinions I value and trust freaking love those shows and find them quite sophisticated entertainment, for what they are. It’s a really strange disconnect. I suspect I’d have trouble understanding someone who honestly believes that The Quarry is a genuinely good book, and I can’t help but feel like a lot of people came into that book carrying an enormous amount of previously-credited respect for Banks as a beloved author, as Cory did, and that somehow allowed them to think the book was better than it was.

Otherwise, I’m really missing something, and am a whole lot denser and insensitive than I imagine myself to be. Which is possible, of course, but I simply don’t feel that dull.


Ok that’s more of a piss take than a smart take.


I thought all the reviews were full of shite.

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Exactly. “Look not into the quarry, lest the quarry also look into y… Wait, never mind, go ahead and JUST LOOK AT IT because who cares, really?”

(BTW, can someone sort me out on why Guy threw the tape into the quarry if he’d already recorded over the bad stuff? Was he just embarrassed about coming over all maudlin or what?)



Wow. Having read that, I gotta say that it really covers all the bases, doesn’t leave out anything that’s worthwhile (except maybe for the view from the overpass and a boner or two), and would have saved us weeks of time.

Well, phooey on the book. But once again, I’m still awfully glad for the conversation we’ve shared over it. You guys were more fun to read than Iain Banks. How 'bout that?


Anybody like Jeff Vanermeer, or wanna try?

The new Weird Fiction which in his case is a cross between Serious Litterchure and genre-whatsits featuring fungi, tentacles and people talking about how how all the blood and unexplained missing bodies makes them feel creepy. I’m not saying there are any more resolutions than The Quarry, but the 1.8 books I’ve read (I’m close to the end of Annihilation) are pretty good.

Love Vandermeer - I haven’t read the Southern Reach Trilogy yet myself but I’ve read everything else. Dunno, should we go back to the discussion thread though? We’ve lost a number of folks along the way, sadly. Including @miasm who IIRC was to blame for this book? :wink:


I love you guys.

It’s going to take a long time before I will believe anyone who tells me I’m gonna love Iain Banks.

As one cancer patient to another…fuck you, Guy, and the horse you rode in on.

And I’m back on a real computer!!!


Welcome back! I love everything else I’ve read by him, but that’s about 4 or 5 genre novels, plus Wasp Factory.