Book discussion - The Quarry - Discussion of Chapter 2


#1

Continuing the discussion from Book discussion - The Quarry - Discussion of Chapter 1:

We are reading The Quarry by Iain Banks together as a group. Anyone is welcome to join. This is the discussion thread for Chapter 2.

Deadline for Chapter 3 is next Friday, 27h of February, at 12:00 noon GMT. That is when a new thread will be created for the discussion of Chapter 3.

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! This just getting moire interesting.


Book discussion - The Quarry - Discussion of Chapter 1
#2

Can we get some name tagging in here?

I never even saw Chapter 1 discussion until I randomly caught this feed.

That is – in the first post in the thread, have an @mention of participants.


Book discussion - The Quarry - Discussion of Chapter 1
#3

My face when the blasting at the quarry makes the bells ring.


#4

As requested, member name tagging:

  1. @Donald_Petersen
  2. @jerwin
  3. @daneel
  4. @miasm
  5. @chgoliz
  6. @Mindysan33
  7. @Elusis
  8. @noahdjango
  9. @OtherMichael
  10. @SmashMartian

I can only tag 10 people at a time. I’'m leaving funruly out because s/he already found the thread.


#5

Spent this morning reading the chapter. So embarassed. I need a reminder.

haze doesn’t come off very well in this chapter, does he?

are there in fact “really tasteful apartments” near the Burj?

Kit is short for Kitchener. About as gender specific as Hillary.


#6

Sorry, all…
BACKSON
BISY
BACKSON
C.R.


#7

The whole gender-confusion thing regarding the main character keeps uncomfortably reminding me of The Wasp Factory.

“As it was in his beginning, is now, and never shall be, novels without end, oh well.”


#8

Not just the main character.

I wasn’t sure if Haze was going to be male or female. I assumed initially it was short for Hazel.


#9

Kit is attracted to girls, but that doesn’t point to gender
Oh, yeah, now I remember. in one of the upcoming chapters, (six)it’s rather firmly established.

how does one do a spoiler tag?

he gets an erection


#10

been uber busy, will contriboot in this thread, promise :smile:


#11

Oh dear. I hope this doesn’t follow the Checkov formula.


#12

why, was his erection on the mantelpiece?


#13

I was expecting a full-blown discussion going on here already but it looks like others have been busy as well. I only finished the chapter today because I’ve been out-of-town (still am), busy and tired.

It seems it has fallen on me to manage this thing. I can only blame myself, though; I always take the lead when there is a group with no actual leader (well, @Mindysan33 sort of if as she started this, but she’s busier than I am and at least didn’t mind me creating the Loomio group) and things need to be organized. And I really don’t mind, quite the contrary - I love it, it makes me feel important and feeds the control-freak in me because I get to do things my way (which is naturally always the best way). But anyone can and should tell me when things could be done better.

As requested by @OtherMichael, from now on in new discussion threads I will post a list of members so they get pinged. I can only tag 10 people in a post (is this a new thing? I was able to do more in the pre-discussion thread? Who would know about forum-related stuff so I can ask?), but there are currently 18 of us, 17 excluding me, so I need to make a second post and break the members list into two parts. Which greatly pains the perfectionist in me.

Also, sorry about the incomplete list above. I was visiting my brother who I rarely see (and even more rarely lately, as he spent the last half a year in another country) and just tried to quickly makes this discussion thread as I had promised to do. Then I just kind of half-assed the member pinging by copying some incomplete list from an earlier thread. Here is the complete member list (as far I am aware), with those those still not pinger tagged, just so no one feels forgotten:

  1. Donald_Petersen
  2. jerwin
  3. daneel
  4. miasm
  5. chgoliz
  6. funruly
  7. Elusis
  8. Raita
  9. noahdjango
  10. OtherMichael
  11. SmashMartian
  12. @Mindysan33
  13. @crenquis
  14. @aeon
  15. @ActionAbe
  16. @jlw
  17. @Ignatius
  18. @penguinchris

It was also requested that someone would do a short summary of the chapter being discussed because some have already read the book and don’t remember chapter specifics, so they have a harder time getting involved in the discussion (without spoiling something). Here’s the summary of this chapter, before I go into my own thoughts about it:

Chapter 2, story so far;
Kit explains about what HeroSpace; It’s an MMO that has even surpassed WoW in popularity. Kit has been playing it for 4 and a half years, and he earns money from it by trading some loot-points for real life money. He has managed to gather 11 to 12 thousand pounds; Hol used to help him manage it but now that he’s 18 Hol can hand over the control of the money to Kit himself. He feels like the game is where he really lives and belongs.
While washing dishes, Kit asks Hol about the tape, which is an S-VHS-C, a tape for a hand-held camera.Hol sayhs there’s “embarrasing shit” on the tape. Kit knows the group used to make short films for their own amusement; Guy, who was objectively very good-looking, was more of an actor than a director. Kit thinks about how he feels about his dad; he loves him, but doesn’t really.
Guy is bitter and acts like a dick to Kit, and says, among other things, that he “wasted my fucking life on you”, and feels like Kit and others are just waiting for him to die.
Kit narrates his usual walking route (457 steps, a prime number, though he had to adjust it from the actual 456 steps) and about the quarry and the explosions that shake the house.
Kit is making breakfast for Guy when Pris comes in. She tells she’s meeting her other half, Rick (who she says is mostly not like Haze), in Ormers for breakfast. Kit says “That’s nice”, and then narrates about such pointless responses and how Hol has got him to start using them, at the very least an “Uh-huh”. Pris tells Kit they support him, asks how he’s doing and that he can always talk to her. She also really wants to find the tape.
The group hangs around chatting. Kit narrates about Haze and Pris, and Allison and Rob and how they work for Grayzr, which Kit switched from Google to (so it’s similar to Google, though we’ve not told more). Hol tells she could’ve worked for The New Yorker as a critic but didn’t want to move to the States.
Kit walks to a point in a B-road that is a bridge over a bigger motorway, to watch cars pass under him, which he likes to do, especially when there’s a traffic jam. He talks about how sometimes sheep cross the B-road and how he fantasizes about a farmer girl coming along and shagging her in a farm (rolling around in hay) or a hot tub.
Later, Kit is having tea when Haze comes to talk to him. He asks about Pris and Rik and when she will be back. Kit asks if the tape is a sex tape, and Haze says no but that it’s embarrassing. Then Haze tried to borrow money (100 pounds) but Kit lies and says he doesn’t have any.
Hol and Kit go shopping and Kit explains how he has a system for getting the best deals from different stores and how he has calculated it all so it’s efficient. They are at a supermarket where Kit used to work for “experience” so he would get his Unemployment money, but he was sacked for constantly suggesting and enacting “innovations” within the stores, and also for other things (like hanging around the self-checkout area during busy times because he likes their sounds). It’s explained that Guy enacted a Power of Attorney action because he expected that Kit wouldn’t be able to take care of himself as an adult, but Hol and Mrs. Willougby (Kit’s therapist?) testified against the action, but it was adjourned, so it’s still unsure.
Kit narrates how Guy has given numerous explanations for who his mother is, and also that it could be Hol, Pris or Alison. Kit is short for Kitchener because a kitchen is where Guy first saw him.
Hol tells Kit that he should not lend money to Haze or tell him there are opiates in the house. Hol tells him a life lesson; that just because you would trust someone with your life doesn’t mean you should trust them with your money.

That was a bit too long, wasn’t it? @Ignatius,@daneel, others who have read more of the book, should it be shorter? What information do you need, so I know what to cut?

Now I need a breather before going into my actual thoughts about the chapter, that took longer than expected. :smiley:


#14

I understand the urge to discuss a question that’s clarified in a later chapter if you’ve read ahead but I guess my concern here is that knowing these two ( @funruly and @OtherMichael ) I’m not sure if these are actual spoilers or using the spoiler tag for fun. It’s so tempting to click because I don’t know if it’s just a joke, but I’ve only read to the end of chapter 2.

Considering the unique circumstances of this BBS discussion - we’re not one-off discussing a movie or the ending of LOST or something - can I assume we’re all agreeing that spoiler tags are only used for actual spoilers, and not in any situation that may be confusing?

Anyway - escalating from what some were saying about the first chapter, the group of friends has become even more cliched in chapter 2. So I’m curious about where Banks is going with that - is he just lazy, is he going to subvert that trope, or is he intentionally using it as a backdrop for Kit’s unique story on top of that to make a certain point, or is Kit maybe interpreting things as being more cliched than they actually are.

His apparent in-depth knowledge of film (no doubt as a result of his father), and knowing that he’s really into the fantasy game world (though it is clear he fully understands that it’s fantasy), makes me think that perhaps a lot of what he knows about people and social situations is gleaned from movies and so he’s making his interpretations of his real life through that lens (he wouldn’t be the only one who does that).

I found his personality to somehow be at significant odds to what I thought from just the first chapter. Possibly due to my projecting, but I don’t know. It almost feels like the two chapters are different drafts of the book, with Banks experimenting with slightly different ways to communicate how Kit’s mind works.

For those of us who identify with Kit in some ways, there’s a whole lot to get into in this chapter. But I just want to point out one thing for now. The UK’s famous proclivity towards orderly queuing sounds like paradise. Here in the US, no way Kit would take such pleasure in going grocery shopping on a Saturday, because the lines are a mess. Especially at self-checkouts, which otherwise are a wonderful thing for reasons Kit explains, which here generally don’t have any set queuing system. Confused consensus does seem to be that a single line should be formed, but it’s completely ad-hoc and pioneered freshly each time. And then someone decides that actually there should be two lines (if there are checkouts on the left and right) because the existing line looks long. I gather that’s reasonable grounds for murder in the UK but here ineffectual passive aggressive response is the best you can hope for, and the one employee who is in charge of all the self-checkouts never does anything to manage the line (and honestly I don’t expect them to have to deal with assholes who jump the line, which the assholes know).


#15

Queuing is just as bad in the UK. :smile: And stage whispers about how rude people are is the most you can expect.

Again, I’ve read the whole book and I’m trying not to bring too much of that into thinking specifically about this chapter, but it still felt like it was just setting up. Not much happened, and moved even more into the old school friend reunion cliche. Struggling to find much to like in most of the characters.

To be honest, this book is my some distance the least favourite thing of Banks’ that I’ve read. I love his SF stuff and I hope if I check out some of his other non-SF stuff it’ll have a bit more to it. I worry that it’s perhaps too slight a novel to deal with chapter by chapter…

The Aldi/Lidl stuff made me think of this

Also, my copy of this book talks about the M1(M), which makes no sense to me. It should either be the M1, or the A1(M).


#16

Since Jerwin mentioned info that happens in a later chapter, I thought it proper to keep my remark under spoiler-blur as well.


#17

With some notable exceptions, they don’t seem to really like each other much.

I’m often the first one to take a joke too far into the mean zone, but I’m having a hard time with the lack of warmth among most in the group.


#18

Without having any real analysis as to the characters or their place in the novel, I was struck by how similar bits of this are to Banks’ SF work. Obviously, it’s the same writer – of course his products will be self-similar to some extent. But the SF works are so “fantastic” and deal with vast ships, space, time, aliens, alien and artificial minds, &c. And yet… they’re also very involved with questions of identity, sexuality, &c &c. “real” things.

Now, what really was the kicker, here, was the tech-cult-corp-speak spouted by the wonder-twins couple. Don’t have it at my fingertips, but it’s wonderful stuff, and the sort of things that makes me so jealous of Banks’ writings. I’d love to be able to produce such a wonderful welter of words that has both meaning and yet is so obviously full of shit. Or not.

Reminds me of my wife’s college friends. Some get along well together. For a group of about 8 women, there are very strong clans, factions and antagonisms.

So, I don’t find this so far-fetched.

And they’re, what, 15 years out of school? Still recent enough that they all believe on some level that they are immutable friends, even if they no longer share any contemporaneous elements.

Also, there’s the missing videotape. We’re only getting hints – and no spoiler tag required – I’m suspecting that’s what’s really holding them together. It’s the tape, not the erection that is Checkov’s gun. Unless its a red herring.


#19

Yes, I think the use of spoiler tags should always be clarified. If people could write something like “Major/minor spoilers below”, or “Chapter 3 spoilers” or “Possible spoilers”. I know people think the mere use of spoiler tags should be enough, but I’ve seen them used in a joking as well as instructional (as in, here’s how you use spoilers) manner without any indication of what it’s about so many times that spoiler tag posts always confuse me. A short post with no visible text leaves a lingering sense of uncertainty in me that distracts me.

In other words, I would appreacite if people could indicate what their spoiler tagged text contains.

They do seem cliched, especially Haze, but I think when their motives and their relations between each other become more clear, they will turn out to be more well-rounded, three-dimensional characters.

I think what Haze is like especially made me sad. A junkie who can’t be trusted with money - where have I seen that before? Oh, everywhere. Even though I do know people like that in real life, I know much more junkies (not using it as a pejorative, I’m attempting to reclaim the term as our own) who are trustworthy, honest people who would never steal. In most circles I have been in, paying back in time if you borrow money is one of those things that is seen as a matter of utmost importance. Stealing drugs or money from friends is always a dealbreaker. It’s a matter of honor - it’s the sort of respect you want to maintain. A solid reputation is everything if you want a steady supply of cheap, good quality drugs. If you’re a lying, stealing junkie, you might get drugs but you pay the price, both literally and in friendships and self-respect.

I don’t know, I think these characters are (or at first seem like) archtypes for a reason, We just don’t see it yet. So far, Hol and Guy seem interesting as characters, so I believe we will find the others to
be as well.

I don’t know what you know (and don’t want to), but from the point of view of someone who has only read two chapters, what has got me hooked into the book and what right now seems to be its point, is that the bleakness of the situation is, in such a lovely way, at odds with the way Kit views and narrates the world. The old school reunion cliche is turned into a (in my opinion) completely different and painful experience because of a dying man’s bitterness, and the resentment and lack of real good will among the group. They all are there because of their own motives (which is all about the tape, but why is still a mystery). At the same time, while Kit is also in a painful situaiton, surrounded by decay and impending death and change and the confusing and difficult interactions with his dad’s old school friends, not to mention his difficult relationship with his father and lack of mother, he chooses to talk or think about other things. He practically lives in HeroSpace. And when dealing with real life, he chooses to focus on how to get groceries as efficiently and cheaply as possible, how beautiful random traffic jams are, how the self-checkout machines make such lovely noises. He’s not stupid, he’s not blissfuly ignorant about his own and others’ difficulties and pain like some might imagine an autistic person to be, but he has a hard time dealing with it, so he uses his energy on a video game and uses slightly different mind to his advantage whenever he can, like enjoying calculating things, and focusing on details which others might not think as important.

Also, since you’ve read the book, can you comment on the summary of this chapter I wrote above? Is it useful to do that with each chapter, was it too long, what info would you like to see in a summary and what is not important?


#20

I think you did a good job. Captured what was in the chapter, I’d say.