The Business

Having read and enjoyed Raw Spirit I thought I had better check out Ian Banks’ fiction, too, and I’m glad I did. The Business reminded me of a couple of Ben Elton novels I read a while back, except the end of the world was not involved and The Business was much better. Much, much better. The synopsis on is as follws:

The Business is the 1990s success story run riot. The eponymous organisation is ancient, rich and invisible. All it lacks is a certain political clout, something the Business has avoided for centuries but with which it is now beginning to toy. A seat in the UN is at stake as Kate Telman, Level 3 executive, is drawn into the (rather polite) machinations of her superiors. Those expecting John Grisham may be disappointed. No bad thing, perhaps: Kate’s personal-professional life — there is, of course, no conflict here for the successful individual of the 1990s — is the main concern. Banks’ interest is in the moral debates about the position of the Business in a world it finds easy to manipulate, drawing the reader into a discussion of the place of the multi-national in contemporary economic and cultural life. «A lot of successful people are less hard-hearted than they like to think»: is one view put forward, and not the only romantic but equivocal sentiment hiding somewhere in The Business. —John Shire

The bit that puzzles me is «personal-professional life — there is, of course, no conflict here for the successful individual of the 1990s» as I sort of thought that the conflict between the personal and the professional was the major plot device of the novel. However, I agree that the strength of the novel, in addition, of course, to it being a ripping good yarn (always the most important facet of a novel imho), is that it makes the reader (or at least this reader) question «the place of the multi-national in contemporary economic and cultural life».

Now, I think the husband picked up one of Banks’ sci-fi novels. I think I’ll have to give that a try, too.

Raw Spirit


A book about whisky which is also a travel-book on Scotland? Ok, count me in!

Iain Banks’ Raw Spirit is a delight of a book, actually. LOL-funny in places and thought-provoking in others (and what more can you ask). I may not agree with all Banks’ opinions in «the search for the perfect dram» (you’d be unlikely to find me waxing lyrical about a whisky which is bottled at a measly 40% abv. – I resent having to settle for a strength that’s dictated more by economics than taste, and I’d rather pay the extra dosh to be given the choice, but some destilleries won’t let me have that chance*), but that’s to be expected, the whole point of single malt whisky is it’s diverseness and the unlikelihood that you may never find another person who shares your preferences down to the last single barrel.