The Crow Road by Iain Banks

This rewarding book is the story of a Scottish family with their complex inter-relationships, seen primarily through the eyes of a young man. Note ‘primarily’; at first I found the multiple points of view and multiple time-periods confusing. If hadn’t been so well written, he’d have lost me about 1/4 of the way through, but Banks has a way of pulling the reader in. The Crow Road is witty, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, confusing, but builds a sense of real lives. Characters are very sharply, sometimes brutally drawn; picture the middle aged aunt at a wedding, ‘dressed in something which looked like a cross between a Persian rug and a multi-occupancy poncho, [who] moved with the determined grace of an elephant, and a curious stiffness that made the experience a little like dancing with a garden shed’, and who had ‘the same effect on the dance floor as a loose cannon manned by hippos’.

It is worth persevering through the initial confusion. Plot lines and dominant characters do emerge, and I finished the book well satisfied, and wishing I could capture characters as well.

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