I never know what to say when someone dies, even 10 years on. Gala and I joked my epitaph should be, “Fuck you looking at? I’ll knife ya.” Ten years ago, Iain Banks died. Shit joke. Unequivocally my fave author at the time. I’ve read a heap since then and in that specific genre only Tamsyn Muir and Ann Leckie have come close. Yeah, a lot of other writers are amazing and touched my heart, made me laugh, but this is the you can take a tote bag of books to a desert island kind of love and it’s those three with Iain forever first.
Like so many weird subculture scenes, Iain got the attention of way too many straight white dudes. And because he was a nominally straight white dude, with a love of fast cars, whiskey and drugs, he doesn’t get much attention outside that very mediocre bubble of dudes talking. Yeah, Excession is a banger of a space opera, but have you read Feersum Endjinn? Or Whit? That shit has radical, liberatory politics all the way through. He was writing Black, Brown, trans, queer liberation and love back in the ’90s. And he always seemed like one of those so rare, genuinely good, thoughtful, fun, caring men. The kind we need a whole lot more of.
Over the almost twenty years of this blog, I’ve written about or mentioned him in the low hundreds of posts. He even has his own tag, though for that number he should be a category. Here’s some of my faves, chronologically.
Which caused me to read some of my own writing from the last decade and I’m not as shamed or embarrassed as I feared. Which might be me lacking in self-awareness of what I’m missing, but whatever.
And what caused this — I was not paying attention and February 16th was his birthday and it’s 10 years since he died — was a thread by Assoc for Scottish Literature with a bunch of links to articles and interviews I’m going to remind myself of by putting here:
Ooohyesss. My favourite favourite Hollywood jacked bro and favourite favourite film series. Twelve-ish years ago I asked Emile, “What are drifting?” and he replied, “Watch Tokyo Drift.“ Twelve-ish years ago, I watched Tokyo Drift and said it was a horrible movie. But that did not stop me reconnecting to my childhood love of hoonage. See, I can grow and learn and evolve. Me and Dasniya have a long-term movie date night relationship with Vin Diesel. We are both well-thrilled Fast X is only 3 months away.
(I don’t like to embed stuff. I don’t trust even YouTube to exist in 10 years. But if you wanna go there to watch it: Fast X | Official Trailer.)
And some I gave their own posts to ’cos they were utter bangers, and some I might even give their own posts, ’cos also bangers. So many books. I can only take one fiction and one non-fiction with me? Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Rehearsals for Living, and Tamsyn Muir’s Nona the Ninth. And one book of poetry? Fatimah Asghar’s If They Come For Us.
Still at the Berlinische Galerie. Obviously I liked this one. Totalled Deutsch hoonage? Easier fix than changing the timing chain. Sometimes I wonder if I’m emotionally swayed by art which is actually superficial at best and kind of white neoliberal corporate in its heart. I dunno. Would I watch 10 minutes of this Benz doing a Nürburgring lap? Duh! Simple pleasures.
Seen on Weser Straße up Kottbusser Damm end, looking well stunting in Vegas Yellow, old habibis giving me the suss eye from Köşgeroğlu restaurant. I’m not really a huge fan of contemporary German hoonage, but the Audi R8 is a tasty slab of a whip, and that yellow is the brightest colour in X-Kölln. “Guys better show respect / If they see man pullin’ up in a TT”.
I love Omar Sakr, and Son of Sin is a beautiful novel but this was not an easy read. It was also an expensive read because getting ‘niche’ books from Straya or Kiwiland up to Europe is an exercise random fees and expenses. Fuck this book made me sad sometimes, like sad for the whole world, for all of us who survived through violence and emotional distance, abandonment and loneliness, and conditional, manipulative love. Yeah Omar habibi you are a gift to the world.
Seen outside Café Fairouz on the corner of Reuter Str. and Sonnenallee. Tight as slammed frontend looking gangster on period-incorrect 500SL AMG Rims, 1984-ish silver Mercedes-Benz W123 500CE AMG Coupé. It’s been six months since I last saw any true German hoonage and I did a double U-turn stopping in the middle of the road just to admire this. Also pause to admire the habibis with their fades enjoying a Thursday evening shisha. Pure Neukölln this. “See man driving a German Whip.”
Seen on Böttgerstraße up Gesundbrunnen Wedding way. Might be an R32, might be a 1.8T, might be a 2001. Definitely maximum Deutsch hoonage. It was dusk, so the flat light blue isn’t as improbably bright as it was when I stood on the cobbles and stopped cars to take the photo. White! White 5-spoke rims with just the right amount of tuck, and the whole Oettinger performance kit, misbahah hanging off the rearview mirror the finishing touch. Tight as fuck. The last of boxy small German hatchbacks before they went blobby. “See man driving a German Whip.”