The Crow Road
It seems like he’s always been with me, always a part of my life. But it’s not true. I recall that first day we met, I was in a now-defunct book store, Wordsworth, in Harvard Square, back in the day when Harvard Square was still trendy and not just another American shopping mall.
I pulled a slim volume off the shelf in the Science Fiction Section by an author I’d never heard of before; The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. A most vile book, and yet I was hooked. Since I’ve read most of his books, though in looking through the list, there are a few I missed; Deadair, and Stonemouth.
Good thing. Because we’ve one left to be published, and then it will be time to say goodbye. For my dear Mr. Banks walks The Crow Road.
The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.
As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps). By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us. Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.
The Crow Road is quite possibly my favorite book. But Banks writing of late has been stellar, and I’ve tremendously enjoyed every book published with the possible exception of Canal Dreams, which was incomprehensible to me. Reading Whit in the wake of Waco helped me grasp it, helped me see that even the most selfish of cult leaders and rediculous of cults can give birth to saints. All Tomorrow’s Parties put our reaction to the horrors of 9/11 into something I could process. And another of my favorites, The Algebriast, simply gave joy.
And then there’s the Culture. I suspect The Culture will be shaping of our future world as Philip K. Dick’s novels have. Or so I hope.
So while you still hold the breath of life, Thank You, Mr. Banks. I wish you and Adele every moment of joy you can grab. I’ve never met you, but I consider you a friend. You’ve brought joy and wonder to me, and I’m grateful.