I first read Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory back when I was starting university ( so this would be 1998) At the time I was trying to get my hands on controversial literature ( All of Irvine Welsh’s books , Crash , The Story of O etc etc) At the time I loved the novel. It had everything I wanted back then, gruesome deaths , black humour and unpredictability. Thus as a 33 year old , would I still appreciate it?
Well I did look at it differently.
Frank is a 16 year old bent on destruction. He has murdered three people and kills animals for shamanic purposes ( his wasp factory being part of this) His insane brother has escaped from an asylum and is planning to visit him. In the midst of all this Frank starts to questions some strange things that are cropping up in his life and is determined to get to the bottom of these mysteries when he does find a secret about himself.
Back then I just thought the Wasp Factory was written for its shock factor but really its about the male gender and how it is a myth , Frank’s emphasis of his manly qualities are just a build up to the apocalyptic (and stunning) conclusion. Probably the book’s only fault is that it does veer off in places a little too quickly (the scenes with Jamie are complete waste of time imo) , in fact the story becomes thrilling when Banks does stick to the novel’s storyline
I would say that Banks has written better and more consistent novels ( The Crow Road being a fave) but they don’t have the punch The Wasp Factory does.