Banks, Iain. The Wasp Factory. 1984. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. Summary
: Frank Cauldhame always believed that a dog castrated him at the age of two. And since then, he has wreaked vengeance on his island home that involved the killing of three people and innumerable animals. But now his brother Eric has escaped from the insane asylum, and Frank is about to learn something about himself that render the elaborate rituals and semi-religious symbolism he has constructed around himself meaningless... Comments
: I can't remember the last time 184 pages of reasonably well-written prose took me so long to finish. We're talking, like, five freakin' days. Because this book stank
. Most of it details the various creative ways that Frank goes about killing people: 1) a childhood rival (poisonous snake in his artificial leg), 2) his little brother (tricks brother into detonating a bomb), and 3) his female cousin (tangles her up in a huge kite and lets her fly away). And animals: 1) putting bombs in rabbit holes, 2) stuffing wasps into mazes and turning them into homemade candles, and 3) slinging various rodents to a muddy death. Everything is narrated in the first person, and there is an oddly aloof tone to it all. You aren't made to love or
hate this character--you're just informed that he is doing it to compensate for his castration. Ya know, as in, if I don't have a dick anymore, well, I can be the man's man by defending my scrap of territory and killing innocent creatures left and right. Then, at the very end, we find out that Frank's little fantasy world was all a big fat lie; "he" is actually a she, and Daddy Dearest has been dosing his daughter with male hormones because he feels burned on women. Pardon me if I fail to find any of this remotely profound. Rating
- If I could have those five days back and forget about this unfortunate excuse of a novel, I'd take the days back in a heartbeat.