The Wasp Factory

The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

This takes place on an island in Scotland, with a wild cast of characters. The beginning was quite compelling, and I could tell early on that I would like the author's style. His prose and imagery is beautifully horrific.


Frank's perspective is fascinating. He spends his days performing a sort of personalized magic. He kills things for his sacrifice poles. He names his tools and imbues them with power by covering them with his blood and urine. He has an altar decorated with various powerful things, tokens from different important life events. He holds his crotch and closes his eyes while repeating secret catechisms. The eponymous Wasp Factory is a tool he uses for divination.


It's interesting contrasting Frank with his brother Eric. Before the start of the book Eric has become a delusional lunatic. Frank thinks he went crazy after a traumatic event--he was too sensitive, "thought too much like a woman." Eric, who was clever and kind as a boy, is overly aggressive and nonsensical as a man broken by the world. Frank, on the other hand, has never left the island and is a different kind of mad. He overcompensates for his lack of a dick by "out-man[ning] those around me...I became the killer, a small image of the ruthless soldier-hero almost all I've ever seen or read seems to pay strict homage to." He believes killing "is what men are really for. Both sexes can do one thing specially well; women can give birth and men can kill." The twist ending, however, makes all this incredibly ironic. I won't say more than that. But it's amazing.