Reading: Iain Banks — Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram

One of the last two I haven’t read, the other being The Quarry, which I think I’ll wait until I’m back in Berlin to read as on one hand I’d like to indulge fully the bleakness of his last work, and on the other, the subject matter is genuinely bleak and I expect to be harrowed. There is additionally one other, which holds a peculiar place for me, read and unread.

The Wasp Factory was the first Iain Banks book I read, sometime in my mid-teens (also the first book he had published) all of which I think deserves a separate post, but for now to say there was a very long gap between reading his first – the dirty secret of the effect it had on me shall remain just that – and my next encounter with him, which I think was 2004-ish and Against a Dark Background or Consider Phlebas.

I’d ordered that first book from Shakespeare and Co, a shop I get thwarted cycling to every time, thanks to the propensity for one-way streets and lanes inside Vienna’s ring that consistently disgorge me onto Schottenring, and which I decided to visit today in the hope it had arrived, as I’ve finished four books since disembarking in Vienna and naturally was concerned with how I might survive an evening or breakfast without.

Much browsing preceded any discussion of arrival or non-, and I toyed with the idea of picking up a couple of books, though in truth, non-wishlist impulse book purchasing is something I find somewhat grotesque, and anyway, as attractive as all those dust jackets are all too often such aquirings end up disappointments. Eventually I reached the sci-fi shelves, and I knew I’d linger over the M. Banks pile despite having them all, but who’d’a thought his one non-fiction piece would be shelved between Transition and Stonemouth?

Of course it has come home with me.

Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram is Iain driving in a Land Rover Defender Td5 and drinking single malt whisky. I took it to the venerable Café Prückel, which I must now go to at least once each time I come to Vienna, and enjoyed one of the best coffees in Europe while sitting in the sun, feeling a little maudlin as Iain made his way via Great Wee Roads to Islay (does not rhyme with Outlay). I read recently he stopped drinking whisky after writing this, and I also won’t be imbibing any of the stuff as some doltish salutation. Instead, shall probably stuff it in my bag when I go for a stroll in Lainzer Tiergarten tomorrow. Possibly useful for distracting wild boars.

Oh, The Wasp Factory had also arrived.