Walking on Glass

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Overview


A reissue of Iain Banks' second novel—three separate stories which unfold to come intricately and masterfully together
 
Her eyes were black, wide as though with some sustained surprise, the skin from their outer corners to her small ears taut. Her lips were pale, and nearly too full for her small mouth, like something bled but bruised. He had ...
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Walking on Glass

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Overview


A reissue of Iain Banks' second novel—three separate stories which unfold to come intricately and masterfully together
 
Her eyes were black, wide as though with some sustained surprise, the skin from their outer corners to her small ears taut. Her lips were pale, and nearly too full for her small mouth, like something bled but bruised. He had never seen anyone or anything quite so beautiful in his life.
 
Graham Park is in love, but Sara Fitch is an enigma to him, a creature of almost perverse mystery. Steven Grout is paranoid, and with justice. He knows that They are out to get him, and They are. Quiss, insecure in his fabulous if ramshackle castle, is forced to play interminable impossible games. The solution to the oldest of all paradoxical riddles will release him, but he must find an answer before he knows the question. Park, Grout, Quiss—no trio could be further apart, but their separate courses are set for collision.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Banks received rave reviews from critics in his native England and the U.S. for his debut in The Wasp Factory. His second novel is also an extraordinary feat, terrifying and baffling, going far beyond the bounds of fiction as it's usually defined. There are really three separate stories here. The first concerns nice young Londoner Graham Park, in love with Sara ffitch (sic), whom he meets through his gay friend, Slater. The latter's wild ideas provide needed comedy in an otherwise brooding atmosphere, as Graham worries over whether he can win the mysterious Sara from her biker boyfriend. The next story tells of Steven Grout, a laborer who can't keep a job because of his disruptive temper. The paranoid Steven believes ``They'' are out to get him via lethal microwaves. The scene is laid in a surreal castle where two prisoners, Quiss and Ajayi, are being held for failing as soldiers in the War Against Banality and Interest. The pair, required to answer riddles to win release from this science-fiction hell, miss every time. Banks connects the entirely different events in the novel's closing pages, which reveal what happens between Graham and Sara in a scene so shocking it leaves the reader numb. February 14
Library Journal
Banks's unusual novel explores the imagination's more grotesque efforts to cope with life, in three personal dilemmas. Graham Park is a young innocent in love, due to awaken to his role in an unwholesome relationship. Steven Grout is a paranoid and a betrayed warrior from another realm, exiled to our world to suffer secret microwave and laser torments as a social misfit. The elderly Quiss and Ajayi themselves are dishonored exiles of a cosmic war, fated to play bizarre games and answer an impossible riddle, in the strangest castle this side of Mervyn Peake. Banks shows a compelling ability to enter their lives. How he brings them together in a fantastic framework is somewhat less compelling. But his vision of disillusion and escape remains memorably funny and sad, like the idea of glass made real in his castle: a transparent yet only apparent solid, that slowly is puddling under the pull of gravity. Recommended. Jeff Clark, SUNY Coll. at Old Westbury Lib.
From the Publisher
"An extraordinary feat, terrifying and baffling, going far beyond the bounds of fiction as it's usually defined."  —Publishers Weekly

"His vision of disillusion and escape remains memorably funny and sad, like the idea of glass made real in his castle: a transparent yet only apparent solid, that slowly is puddling under the pull of gravity. Recommended."  —Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780349139203
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Edition description: New edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 974,107
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Iain Banks has gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. He is perhaps best known for his Culture series of novels, which includes Consider Phlebas, Matter, and Surface Detail.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great Story Telling

    I'm kind of in the middle of a Banks binge, trying to get a few of his non M books read (Iain Banks = fiction, Iain M. Banks = SciFi).

    This is the first non M book that I think could have been an "M". Walking on Glass has three stories that come together towards the end. The first story is about a man walking to the house of the woman he loves to tell her how he feels. Along the way he recalls moments he spent with her and how he felt at the time, he is walking on air. The second story is about a man that just quit his job before they could fire him. He knows they are out to get him. His tormentors are relentless. He has to avoid their microwave guns and the lasers in the axles of cars. He knows that if he tells what he knows they will lock him up (in a hospital) to keep him quiet. The third story is about a couple who have been locked in a castle until they either kill themselves, or until they can answer a riddle. To give an answer to the riddle they have to figure out the rules to a game and play it to it's conclusion, games like Chinese Scrabble or spotless dominoes. The riddle they need to answer is: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

    Iain Banks does a wonderful job of putting the reader inside the head of the characters, so you don't just feel for them you feel with them. Walking on Glass is on the dark side and contains adult situations and some suffering.

    As I was reading I knew what it was like to be each of the characters. To be in love, to understand what it would be like to believe there are tormentors out to get you, or to be frustrated with trying to learn a game just so you can try to solve an impossible riddle.

    Towards the end of the book there were times that the suffering was so intense that I felt physical pain and could not stop reading for fear that the pain would stay with me. The stories come together and the ending was perfection that left me completely satisfied and happy that I read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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