I first met Frank (the protagonist and narrator in “The Wasp Factory”) in about May or June 1990. I had taken my bike (then an FJ1200) in to the dealer for a routine service and tyre change and had wandered in to a local newsagent to pick up a magazine or two to read whilst I was waiting. On impulse I bought a copy of Iain Banks’ first novel after reading the intriguing cover notes. I read it in one sitting and finished it before the bike was ready.
That same copy was passed around a bunch of friends with whom I shared a holiday in southern France later that summer. No-one, but no-one could put it down once they had started it, and equally no-one could really believe what they had just read.
Banks went on to become one of the greatest writers of his generation, despite “The Wasp Factory” being rejected by multiple publishers before finally seeing the light of day in 1984. Tragically he died on Sunday 9 June merely a couple of months after he had announced publicly that he had inoperable cancer of the gall bladder. He was only 59 years old.