• Espedair Street

  • By: Iain Banks
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (58 ratings)

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Espedair Street  By  cover art

Espedair Street

By: Iain Banks
Narrated by: Peter Kenny
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Publisher's Summary

Daniel Weir used to be a famous - not to say infamous - rock star. Maybe still is. At thirty-one he has been both a brilliant failure and a dull success. He's made a lot of mistakes that have paid off and a lot of smart moves he'll regret forever (however long that turns out to be). Daniel Weir has gone from rags to riches and back, and managed to hold onto them both, though not much else.

His friends all seem to be dead, fed up with him or just disgusted - and who can blame them? And now Daniel Weir is all alone. As he contemplates his life, Daniel realises he only has two problems: The past and the future. He knows how bad the past has been. But the future - well, the future is something else.

©1987 Iain Banks (P)2013 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Engagingly told, cleverly constructed." ( Time Out)

What listeners say about Espedair Street

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Almost really really great

This story was witty and quippy, fast-paced and quite funny. I laughed out loud within the first 10 minutes of listening and thought "this is going to be a great ride." The way the characters unfolded was so good. The story telling was smooth and interesting with Banks jumping from present to past.

I loved the main characters and all of his side-kicks. I could really visualize the little town he lived in and his crazy house and the bar he frequented. I was completely invested in everything about the story.

I loved the snippets of the song lyrics peppered throughout the story. I would stop and sometimes rewind and listen to them again.

Then, Banks started to wrap up the story, and things fell apart for me. The ending was cliche, and predictable, though I didn't expect it because the book was so good. I didn't expect the ending to be that bad, so I guess it wasn't entirely predictable. It was a lame attempt to make you really like Weir,D (the main character) in the end when I already liked him. The wrap-up and the ending just really did not do justice to the rest of the book. It felt hurried and uninspired.

The narration was great. When I very first turned the book on, it took me a couple minutes to understand what he was saying his accent was so thick. But then I got used to it and the accent just added to the charm. His voices and distinction between characters were really great.

If you keep expectations a little low for the ending, I recommend this book.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Stands out from Iain Banks's other novels

If you could sum up Espedair Street in three words, what would they be?

Enjoyable, Sad, Funny

Isn't it ridiculous that this asks for three words and has a minimum of fifteen to be able to submit it?

What did you like best about this story?

What I always like about Iain Banks's work, the characters.

What does Peter Kenny bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Well, being American, I would probably think of the characters with the "Hollywood" accent. Peter Kenny does a great job with differentiating the characters too.

Who was the most memorable character of Espedair Street and why?

Daniel. He's the protagonist in a first person perspective novel, so, of course, he's the most memorable.

Any additional comments?

This is probably the most optimistic Iain Banks novel I've read. I haven't read all his work but a good amount. Don't misunderstand, this is still a really sad story, but you won't be in a fog of depression when you finish it.

2 people found this helpful

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The narrator's Scottish accent was perfect

The reader's Scottish accent was perfect for the characters and for the story.

this was my first non sci-fi book by Banks. Glad to see his amazing talent for imagery and scene setting also apply to more 'normal' story.

and his quirky, fun humanistic sensibilities.

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Memoir of an aging rock star

The first thing resembling a plot starts at around hour 5. It’s pleasant enough, just a bit dull. Peter Kenny’s performance was fantastic.

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Another Banks at His Best

If you've read and loved Stonemouth or Steep Approach to Garbadale, you'll love Espedair Street. The story is tight, beautifully written and engaging. Peter Kenny's reading is spot on and brought me into the story with his usual, terrific voice work.

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  • Zara
  • 05-14-17

Breathtaking

The plot is interesting, the characters engaging and the quality of the writing and narrating excellent.

But more than all that it perfectly illustrates the anxiety and pain one can feel as a result of there appearance, upbringing and life choices.

It made me feel less alone and more capable while providing a thoroughly enjoyable story.

Bravo mr Banks

3 people found this helpful

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  • I. Mitchell
  • 03-23-20

Usual Banks magic missing

I’m a huge fan of Banks but this story gets a bit tedious and lacks his usual magic touch.

1 person found this helpful

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  • A20man
  • 10-21-18

Dull

Only made it to the end of this because it was a book group selection.... will be interesting to see if anyone in the book group liked it! Unfortunately to me it was just extremely boring. Part of the problem may be that none of the songs mentioned actually exist - a title and a few lyrics cannot command the emotional connection of actually listening to song. This is book where music is important but it doesn’t have any music in it - maybe this would have seemed a less jarring issue if I had been reading the novel rather than listening to it. As I was in listening mode, I wanted to hear the songs!

I found the characters poorly drawn, more caricature than flesh and blood. The ending was both unimaginative and unbelievable. There were a few rather “slapstick” moments (one of which involved a drunk dog) which I could imagine translating well into a low budget darkly comic film but other than that struggling to find anything positive to say.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Helen Percival
  • 12-22-20

My favourite book

Iain wrote so many amazing books, but I first read Espedair Street as a uni student, and it’s always shone out to me. It’s an atmospheric, shot of 80s (&70s) life-evoking, mood raiser, and I’ll always love it. This audio version is spot on, Peter Kenny really gets Iain’s writing and brings it deliciously to life.
Highly recommended.