full of fundraising ideas for the Students Union. ‘I couldn‘t withdraw, so I wrote a very flippant election address and submitted a photo of my car. working on the principle that it was much more handsome in a chunky sort ofway.‘ In the event, he came last.

The Crow Road is Banks‘ most mature work to date. and probably his most accessible. There is a definite left-of-centre, if middle-class. feel about it. with constant references to contemporaneous events such as the GulfWar. and more than the occasional nod in the direction of style, music and TV. Might it be an attempt to chronicle a slice of modern history and say something about Scotland today? ‘It is, but just by the fact that it is set in contemporary times.‘ says Banks. ‘But it‘s not meant to be “Scotland: the state ofthe nation" or “Scotland: position in the UK“. At one time I was thinking ofdoing something like that,

Her last act of sexual congress took place on the leather back seat of a Lagonda

Rapide Saloon.

but I decided that it was going to make the book far too long, and perhaps over- deliberate. That sort of stuff is only there to the extent I thought it would impinge on the story if these were exactly the events which were happening. There isn‘t any sort of

gigantic message.‘

Mature and less violent though The Crow Road might be. these are only comparative

terms. Unless your granny is as

broadminded as Grandma McHoan, whose last act ofsexual congress took place on the leather back seat of a Lagonda Rapide Saloon. this is not the book to be giving her for her birthday. Or you too may experience

an explosive grandmother.

Iain Banks will be signing copies of his novel atJohn Smith 's bookshop in Glasgow and Waterston e 's Princes S new branch in Edinburgh on Saturday 4 April. See Book

Events listings for details.

bed and wheeched the duvet off.

‘Aw ya —!‘ He grabbed the duvet back. cocooned himselfagain. ‘- bastard!‘

‘Gavin.‘ I told him. ‘You are a skid-mark on the lavatory bowl of life. But I respect you for it.‘ I turned. grabbed my dressing gown and made for the door; with one mighty ninja kick. the side of my right foot connected with all three switches ofthe fan heater at the same time and it hummed into life. ‘I shall make some tea.‘

‘Dunno about tea; fuckin good at makin a noise.‘

‘Thank you for sharing that with us. Gav. I shall return.‘

‘What‘s the weather like?‘

‘Hmm.‘ I said. staring at the ceiling. one finger to my lips. ‘Good question.‘ I said. ‘The weather's like, a manifestation ofthe energy-transfer effected between volumes of the planet‘s gaseous envelope due to differential

warming of the atmosphere at various latitudes by solar radiation. Surprised you didn‘t know that. actually, Gavin.‘

Gavin stuck his head out from under the duvet. giving me cause once more to marvel at the impressive way the lads shoulders merged into his head with no

apparent narrowing in between (this

appear to be the principal physical benefit bestowed by the game of rugby; the acquisition of an extremely thick neck, just as the most important thing one could take to the sport was a thick skull. and from it an intact one still in satisfactory two-way communication with one‘s spinal cord).

Gav - who probably epitomised thick-skulledness, though admittedly would not be amongst one‘s first fifteen when it came to

offering proofofheavytrafficwithin

the central nervous system opened one bleary eye and focused on me


with the same accuracy one has grown to expect from security forces aiming baton rounds at protesters‘ legs. ‘What the fuck‘s made you so unbearable this morning?‘

I clasped my hands. smiled broadly. ‘Gavin. I am in a transport ofdelight, or at least shall be shortly after one o‘clock this afternoon.‘

There was a pause while Gavin‘s duty-neuron struggled to assimilate this information.

The intense processing involved obviously exhausted too much of Gav‘s thinly-stretched grey matter to allow speech in the near future, so he , contented himselfwith a grunt and submerged again.

I boogied to the kitchen, singing, ‘Walking On Sunshine‘.

Copyright© 1991 by Iain Banks.

The Crow Road is published by Scribners on 9 April at £15. 99.

The List 27 March 9 April 1992 9