Away the Crow Road

This is nothing do to with Six Gallery & old news besides. But earlier this month, Iain Banks boosted his book sales by cleverly dying of gallbladder cancer & I just read Stuart Kelly’s final interview with him for The Guardian. Here’s Banks on the outrageousness of real life & the annoyingly unrealistic amount of sense fiction is supposed to make:

“It’s a writerly truism – probably best illustrated by William Goldman in Adventures in the Screen Trade – that only real life can get away with the really outrageous stuff. The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn’t. It’s incredibly annoying for us scribblers. A lot of the time you’re simply deciding how far down the path of unlikeliness you can go while still retaining the willing suspension of disbelief in the reader. You can’t go too far – ‘With one mighty bound he was free!’ – because it just becomes ridiculous. Readers will start to feel that it’s all too coincidental, too easy, too contrived and convenient for the writer’s purposes. You’re trying to decide how much you can get away with.”

Yep, a tricky decision.

Banks followed his usual schedule of writing in the early months of the year. He went to the doctor thinking his sore back was most likely due to having been sitting at a desk writing The Quarry. “On the morning of 4th March” – after he had been sent for a CT scan – “I thought everything was hunky dory except I had a sore back and my skin looked a bit funny. By the evening of the 4th I’d been told I had only a few months to live. By that time I’d written 90% of the novel; 87,000 words out of 97,000. Luckily, even though I’d done my words for the day, I’d taken a laptop into the hospital in Kirkcaldy, and once I’d been given the prognosis, I wrote the bit where Guy says, ‘I shall not be disappointed to leave all you bastards behind.’ It was an exaggeration of what I was feeling, but it was me thinking: ‘How can I use this to positive effect?’ Because I was feeling a bit kicked in the guts at this point. So I thought, ‘OK, I’ll just give Guy a good old rant.’ Like I say; that’s reality for you, it can get away with anything.”

Can’t wait to read that good old rant.

Mad condolences to the pals & fam of Mr. Banks,  & to all who dug his books. Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome & tall as you.

2 Responses to “Away the Crow Road”

  1. “The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn’t.” Oh, my, yes … raising a glass to Mr. Banks … may the next world, fictional or no, be more surreal than the last.

    Don

  2. Amen.

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