I'd been meaning to post for a while about how much I was looking forward to the publication of Iain Banks' new book, The Quarry. Originally due out in October, the publication was recently brought forward to June.
The Quarry will now not just be his next novel, but his last. Regardless of what I think of it in itself, it will be added to a volume of work by one of this nation's best authors - too often under-rated and under-recognised.
Whilst I've been disappointed with most of Banks' recent offerings, his earlier works (and, I understand, his Science Fiction work) is amongst the finest contemporary fiction by any British author.
Dark, witty, occasionally violent; his novels explore the gritty side of life and relationships and the consequences of actions. Inter-generational family sagas where echoes of the past come back to exert a price on the inhabitants of the present were a recurring obsession.
At the heart of many of his novels were secrets. Secrets that ate away at his characters and families, like a cancer; slowly but steadily developing until they were ready to destroy.
Today, Iain Banks has sadly announced that his body has been playing host to a very real cancer of its own - and that he only has months to live. I am absolutely gutted by this news and for Banks himself. My wish is that he is able to live out his last months in as much comfort and as little pain as the medics can provide.