I am a huge fan of either the fiction written under Iain Banks, or the science fiction, written under Iain M Banks (although sometimes the science part of science fiction can get a bit beyond me). Iain’s new book, Stonemouth, has been worth waiting for. It’s set on the east coast of Scotland, north of Aberdeen. Stewart Gilmour has returned home for the funeral of the patriach of Stonemouth’s premier crime family. Stewart had been going to marry into the family until there was an unfortunate incident a couple of weeks before the wedding. Now Jo Murston has died, and Stewart has to come back to this bleak hometown where drugs, gangsters, and seafog rule. Stewart is not at all sure of the reception he is going to get from the Murston family, but it would be lethal to stay away. I think Banks is brilliant.
We were so fortunate to have Andrew Robb come last wednesday for one of our Conversations in the Courtyard series of informal talks. What a terrific morning it was! Andrew has held senior management positions and has served as federal and campaign director of the Liberal Party. He always knew he ‘wasn’t good in the mornings’ and as time went on, these periods of depression lasted longer. He avoided confronting this issue for four decades, and only recently has shared his battle with ‘the black dog’ of depression. It was a great morning, and you can read about his battle in his book Black Dog Daze. A really inspiring talk, an inspiring man.
Yes, a new Anne Tyler – The Beginner’s Goodbye. Tyler hasn’t ever written a bad book so it’s always a joy when a new one appears. In this novel, Dorothy has died, leaving her husband Aaron very bereft – they had a long, happy marriage. Then Aaron starts seeing Dorothy, usually in unusual places. At first it’s wonderful and Aaron wants this materialising to keep on happening. Then he and we begin to notice the arguments between Dorothy the ghost and Aaron the distraught husband and the true state of the marriage begins to appear. It’s a delightful book.