Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: "Dead Air" by Iain Banks

I don’t really feel good about sullying the recently dead, but Dead Air by Iain Banks is a pretty bad book. Not awful, but this was a long, long 400 pages book that I’m glad I finally finished. I’ve been kind of a fan of Iain Banks, and was very sadden when I heard that he had passed away. He was an odd, rather inconsistent talent who always delivered unique gothic tales for mass consumption. I am a big fan of his long novel The Crow Road, and find a sick glee in The Wasp Factory and Complicity. But it is hard to find anything good in this book, which is even more unpleasant than most of the themes that Banks would deal with in his literary fiction. It’s not very original, feeling very derivative of James Kelman, but without much feeling. And despite a few hilarious sex scenes, it is all criminally boring. It begins in a very memorable scene at a party that has gotten out of control. The novel focuses on Ken Nott, a kind of shock jock DJ who is a cross between the harshness of Rush Limbaugh but with the politics of Bill Maher. During this party, the guests begin throwing things off the balcony, and they hear over the radio about the two planes hitting the twin towers. From there, we learn that Ken is not a savory character. He cheats on his girlfriend, does a lot of drugs, and flaunts horrid politics just to jack up his ratings. This all leads to a relationship with the wife of a crime boss, which forces him to change. As I said, it is quite boring with the exception of a graphic sex scene in the middle. It is very hard for me to recall much from it, even the violent parts. It is good that this is only one book in a large body of work, because this was not him at his best.

Rating: 2/5

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