Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth. After five years in exile, his presence is required at the funeral of patriarch Joe Murston, and even though the last time Stu saw the Murstons he was running for his life, staying away might be even more dangerous than turning up.
An estuary town north of Aberdeen, Stonemouth, with its five mile beach, can be beautiful on a sunny day. On a bleak one it can seem to offer little more than sea fog, gangsters, cheap drugs and a suspension bridge irresistible to suicides. And although there's supposed to be a temporary truce between Stewart and the town's biggest crime family, it's soon clear that only Stewart is taking this promise of peace seriously. Before long a quick drop into the cold grey Stoun begins to look like the soft option, and as he steps back into the minefield of his past to confront his guilt and all that it has lost him, Stu uncovers ever darker stories, and his homecoming takes a more lethal turn than even he had anticipated.
Tough, funny, fast-paced and touching, Stonemouth cracks open adolescence, love, brotherhood, and vengeance in a rite-of-passage novel like no other.
©2012 Iain Banks (P)2012 Hachette Digital
The plot moves swiftly (the book covers a 3 - 4 day period) and there are several unexpected events. The authors slow revelation of the main characters history was good.
Peter Kenny's performances are consistently good.
Some people never forgive....
Iain Banks is a genius and Peter Kenny presents his works perfectly. Kenny brings out every nuance and has a voice that seems to merge with the text and creates a full blooded technicolour rendition of the story.
No only is this a great audiobook, it is yet more evidence that we need to see the rest of Iain Banks' substantial bibliography brought online. Highly recommended.
"Revenge and Regret on the Scottish Coast"
Regarding Audiobooks, I have resisted the urge until this point as I have a dubious habit of poring over the intricately formed sentences that my favourite writers have created. I wasn't the least bit sure I would be able to concentrate on a storyteller reading to me at a pace I may not have been comfortable or familiar with. I wallow in fiction, especially when layered so carefully, as most of Banks' work undoubtedly is.
And Stonemouth is no different in this respect. Banks readers have been spoilt for years with the power of his ability to entrance and displace his readers into whatever world he has created for them. Here, in a small coastal town near Aberdeen, we meet Stewart Gilmour, tentatively creeping back home after being chased away five years previously for reasons that will become apparent. The slow burn narrative of the main plotline is the bone that the rest of Banks' flourishes cling to. And what flourishes! Stonemouth comes alive, witty and funny, bristling and feisty like its weather and the wake of its coast, spewing characters that are wonderfully imperfect and immaculately rendered.
The story is simple, but it is in the detail that fans will revel. A paintball fight, a view of the Stoun over the suspension bridge, an innocent game of pool gone awry. All deftly handled by a man who continues to create reality from the unbelievable, painting polaroids in your head. By the end of the story, I was genuinely upset that my time in Stonemouth was over.
None of this would have been possible without the talents of narrator Peter Kenny. I was blissfully relieved, despite my previously mentioned fears, when this warm, smooth Scottish accent greeted me. His range, pace and urgency were all absolutely in keeping with Banks' superlative attention to detail. His timing and intonation were the perfect accompaniment for both the incredulous humour and the often brooding meance.
This may have been my first Audiobook, but thanks to Kenny, it won't be my last.
"No fireworks but a slow burner"
This story seems to have divided opinion with some saying it was the best they'd ever read and others that it wasn't worthy of the Banks name. I fall somewhere between the two extremes, thinking that it was a very good attempt at describing the social interaction of people who have been brought together for whatever reason and are not that comfortable in each other's company.
The fact that the story bubbles along with an undercurrent of potential menace is a device that works well for me but I can see that others might be longing for something dramatic to happen.
Things do happen of course but perhaps not at the pace that some would like.
I enjoyed it and Peter Kenny's reading made it even more enjoyable for me.
"The great storyteller"
Ian Banks is the consummate storyteller weaving plot and sub-plot together into a seamless masterpiece. Highly recommended audio book, read with ease and surety surety by the narrator.
A beautiful book that is one of the best audio books I've heard. It's a powerful mix of Ian McEwan, Irvine Welsh with some Pulp Fiction thrown in. It was entertaining (laugh out loud at times), with fully rounded characters and a strong sense of time and place. Peter Kenny is an excellent reader too.
I confess to being a massive Iain Banks and Iain M Banks fan. This is the first Iain Bank's audiobook I have listen too and I really enjoyed it. The story is good and the narration is excellent. I like Peter Kenny's voice and am a sucker for the Scottish accent.
"A Slice of Life"
An audio book has two crucial aspects. The performance and the story.
In this case we have excellence in both areas.
Peter Kenny is a brilliant choice of reader and his range of Scottish accents provides the perfect backdrop for Iain Banks' story of misspent youth colliding with chaotic present.
The plot is both mystery and thriller. What did our hero do that means his choice to return to Stonemouth is so risky? What are the consequences of his actions now and over the past few years?
The story is well paced, absorbing and funny. Banks has a natural feel for the zeitgeist and evokes a sense of moment in the same way as writers such as Douglas Coupland. I'm not sure if this will age so well and one day readers may look upon books like this with nostalgic amusement but for now it feels very contemporary.
I have no qualms about thoroughly recommending this book, A top listen!.
Another great tale from Iain Banks, with fantastic narration. If you like Iain Banks, you'll love this.
I have never read/listened to an Iain Banks novel before, partly because I thought he only wrote science fiction. This was a revelation. He captured those East Coast Scottish towns so perfectly and those small communities, where everyone knows everyone else. A great listen.
"Ambling, shallow and disappointing. No real menace"
I love Banks' stuff usually, especially the books about families, secrets and love. This book deals with all those themes, but in a really flat way. Not going to spoil the plot, obviously, but there are times when he goes on huge digressions (usually about cars or mobile phones...) while really important stuff is almost glossed over. Given how odd and interesting some of the characters seem at first to be, and how dominated by a particular group of them the town of Stonemouth is, the whole thing feels, well, tame. There are some dramatic moments, sure, but they just didn't work for me. Too cinematic and flip. When he is at his best his books are like jigsaws. You puzzle over the pieces as you go along, thinking ' What is this piece for? How does it fit?' but at the end you stand back and see the whole, fabulous picture. Not here. There are at least two set pieces which go on and on and are, I guess, well done in their own right (and might have made very good short stories) but just don't add anything overall.
Even when arguing the characters often speak in lengthy, fluid, well-constructed paragraphs, and there is little to distinguish them from each other, especially the female ones. It's a long old book, too, narrated in the first person, yet by the end I still felt I knew nothing of the main character. Too often he seemed to be just a mouthpiece for Banks' own views on, say, crime and computer games. It's the kind of solipsistic error people make in their first novel, so it really grates when someone as experienced as Banks does it. The main character ages quite a bit during the book and has to deal with some traumatic stuff, yet he never seems to change.
I stuck with it but by the end just felt that I had wasted a lot of valuable time I could have spent listening to Radiolab downloads! I might go back and read some of his truly great books again, such as The Wasp Factory and Complicity, but I'd urge anyone else who loves those books to stay away from Stonemouth.
"Dislikeable, privileged kids mess up their lives.."
With this plot and these characters, raising it to a 4 or 5 star listen would not have been possible
Introducing one or two vaguely likeable characters would have helped
The narrator. Selfish, self-involved, whiny. But he is the central character among a cast of cardboard villains and two-dimensional bit players. None of them evoke real interest.
A very insubstantial piece of work, sadly.
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