One of my favourite books of all time is The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. I remember reading the novel in Highschool and being amazed and intrigued by the disturbing and sadistic mind of the protagonist. Bank’s imagination was like none I had ever encountered. Eight years later, and I’ve just made it through Canal Dreams. My initial impression of Banks’ skill remains unchanged.
At first, I found the novel a little slow in its development, with Banks carefully introducing the Hisako, the novel’s protagonist. A Japanese cellist with a crippling fear of flying, Hisako immediately made me feel like I was reading a Murakami novel. This feeling further instilled by the dream sequences throughout the story. However, the slow start of the book established a sense of comfort in me as a reader, which worked well to leave me shocked and enthralled, when Banks’ pulled no stops in his details of bloodshed at the end of the novel.
While not a recommendation for the light-hearted or squeamish reader, Canal Dreams is a confronting depiction of what we can be when we have nothing left to lose. Hisako’s journey from a classical cellist to a Ramboesque heroine, illustrating that at heart, we can all be killers.
Peace & Love