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The Wasp Factory (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Iain Banks
4.8 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit


Chapter 1

The Sacrifice Poles

I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me.

At the north end of the island, near the tumbled remains of the slip where the handle of the rusty winch still creaks in an easterly wind, I had two Poles on the far face of the last dune. One of the Poles held a rat head with two dragonflies, the other a seagull and two mice. I was just sticking one of the mouse heads back on when the birds went up into the evening air, kaw-calling and screaming, wheeling over the path through the dunes where it went near their nests. I made sure the head was secure, then clambered to the top of the dune to watch with my binoculars.

Diggs, the policeman from the town, was coming down the path on his bike, pedalling hard, his head down as the wheels sank part way into the sandy surface. He got off the bike at the bridge and left it propped against the suspension cables, then walked to the middle of the swaying bridge, where the gate is. I could see him press the button on the phone. He stood for a while, looking round about at the quiet dunes and the settling birds. He didn't see me, because I was too well hidden. Then my father must have answered the buzzer in the house, because Diggs stooped slightly and talked into the grille beside the button, and then pushed the gate open and walked over the bridge, on to the island and down the path towards the house. When he disappeared behind the dunes I sat for a while, scratching my crotch as the wind played with my hair and the birds returned to their nests.

I took my catapult from my belt, selected a half-inch steelie, sighted carefully, then sent the big ball-bearing arcing out over the river, the telephone poles and the little suspension bridge to the mainland. The shot hit the 'Keep Out -- Private Property' sign with a thud I could just hear, and I smiled. It was a good omen. The Factory hadn't been specific (it rarely is), but I had the feeling that whatever it was warning me about was important, and I also suspected it would be bad, but I had been wise enough to take the hint and check my Poles, and now I knew my aim was still good; things were still with me.

I decided not to go straight back to the house. Father didn't like me to be there when Diggs came and, anyway, I still had a couple of Poles to check before the sun went down. I jumped and slid down the slope of the dune into its shadow, then turned at the bottom to look back up at those small heads and bodies as they watched over the northern approaches to the island. They looked fine, those husks on their gnarled branches. Black ribbons tied to the wooden limbs blew softly in the breeze, waving at me. I decided nothing would be too bad, and that tomorrow I would ask the Factory for more information. If I was lucky, my father might tell me something and, if I was luckier still, it might even be the truth.

I left the sack of heads and bodies in the Bunker just as the light was going completely and the stars were starting to come out. The birds had told me Diggs had left a few minutes earlier, so I ran back the quick way to the house, where the lights all burned as usual. My father met me in the kitchen.

'Diggs was just here. I suppose you know.'

He put the stub of the fat cigar he had been smoking under the cold tap, turned the water on for a second while the brown stump sizzled and died, then threw the sodden remnant in the bin. I put my things down on the big table and sat down, shrugging. My father turned up the ring on the cooker under the soup-pan, looking beneath the lid into the warming mixture and then turning back to look at me.

There was a layer of grey-blue smoke in the room at about shoulder level, and a big wave in it, probably produced by me as I came in through the double doors of the back porch. The wave rose slowly between us while my father stared at me. I fidgeted, then looked down, toying with the wrist-rest of the black catapult. It crossed my mind that my father looked worried, but he was good at acting and perhaps that was just what he wanted me to think, so deep down I remained unconvinced.

'I suppose I'd better tell you,' he said, then turned away again, taking up a wooden spoon and stirring the soup. I waited. 'It's Eric.'

Then I knew what had happened. He didn't have to tell me the rest. I suppose I could have thought from the little he'd said up until then that my half-brother was dead, or ill, or that something had happened to him, but I knew then it was something Eric had done, and there was only one thing he could have done which would make my father look worried. He had escaped. I didn't say anything, though.

'Eric has escaped from the hospital. That was what Diggs came to tell us. They think he might head back here. Take those things off the table; I've told you before.' He sipped the soup, his back still turned. I waited until he started to turn round, then took the catapult, binoculars and spade off the table. In the same flat tone my father went on; 'Well, I don't suppose he'll get this far. They'll probably pick him up in a day or two. I just thought I'd tell you. In case anybody else hears and says anything. Get out a plate.'

I went to the cupboard and took out a plate, then sat down again, one leg crossed underneath me. My father went back to stirring the soup, which I could smell now above the cigar smoke. I could feel excitement in my stomach -- a rising, tingling rush. So Eric was coming back home again; that was good-bad. I knew he'd make it. I didn't even think of asking the Factory about it; he'd be here. I wondered how long it would take him, and whether Diggs would now have to go shouting through the town, warning that the mad boy who set fire to dogs was on the loose again; lock up your hounds!

My father ladled some soup into my plate. I blew on it. I thought of the Sacrifice Poles. They were my early-warning system and deterrent rolled into one; infected, potent things which looked out from the island, warding off. Those totems were my warning shot; anybody who set foot on the island after seeing them should know what to expect. But it looked like, instead of being a clenched and threatening fist, they would present a welcoming, open hand. For Eric.

'I see you washed your hands again,' my father said as I sipped the hot soup. He was being sarcastic. He took the bottle of whisky from the dresser and poured himself a drink. The other glass, which I guessed had been the constable's, he put in the sink. He sat down at the far end of the table.

My father is tall and slim, though slightly stooped. He has a delicate face, like a woman's, and his eyes are dark. He limps now, and has done ever since I can remember. His left leg is almost totally stiff, and he usually takes a stick with him when he leaves the house. Some days, when it's damp, he has to use the stick inside, too, and I can hear him clacking about the uncarpeted rooms and corridors of the house; a hollow noise, going from place to place. Only here in the kitchen is the stick quieted; the flagstones silence it.

That stick is the symbol of the Factory's security. My father's leg, locked solid, has given me my sanctuary up in the warm space of the big loft, right at the top of the house where the junk and the rubbish are, where the dust moves and the sunlight slants and the Factory sits -- silent, living and still.

My father can't climb up the narrow ladder from the top floor; and, even if he could, I know he wouldn't be able to negotiate the twist you have to make to get from the top of the ladder, round the brickwork of the chimney flues, and into the loft proper.

So the place is mine.

I suppose my father is about forty-five now, though sometimes I think he looks a lot older, and occasionally I think he might be a little younger. He won't tell me his real age, so forty-five is my estimate, judging by his looks.

'What height is this table?' he said suddenly, just as I was about to go to the breadbin for a slice to wipe my plate with. I turned round and looked at him, wondering why he was bothering with such an easy question.

'Thirty inches,' I told him, and took a crust from the bin.

'Wrong,' he said with an eager grin. 'Two foot six.'

I shook my head at him, scowling, and wiped the brown rim of soup from the inside of my plate. There was a time when I was genuinely afraid of these idiotic questions, but now, apart from the fact that I must know the height, length, breadth, area and volume of just about every part of the house and everything in it, I can see my father's obsession for what it is. It gets embarrassing at times when there are guests in the house, even if they are family and ought to know what to expect. They'll be sitting there, probably in the lounge, wondering whether Father's going to feed them anything or just give an impromptu lecture on cancer of the colon or tapeworms, when he'll sidle up to somebody, look round to make sure everybody's watching, then in a conspiratorial stage-whisper say: 'See that door over there? It's eighty-five inches, corner to corner.' Then he'll wink and walk off, or slide over on his seat, looking nonchalant.

Ever since I can remember there have been little stickers of white paper all over the house with neat black-biro writing on them. Attached to the legs of chairs, the edges of rugs, the bottoms of jugs, the aerials of radios, the doors of drawers, the headboards of beds, the screens of televisions, the handles of pots and pans, they give the appropriate measurement for the part of the object they're stuck to. There are even ones in pencil stuck to the leaves of plants. When I was a child I once went round the house tearing all the stickers off; I was belted and sent to my room for two days. Later my father decided it would be useful and character-forming for me to know all the measurements as well as he did, so I had to sit for hours with the Measurement Book (a ...

Revue de presse

The Independent One of the top 100 novels of the century.

The New York Times Brilliant...irresistible...compelling.

Mail on Sunday A mighty imagination has arrived on the scene.

The Financial Times Macabre, bizarre, and impossible to put down.

The Scotsman There's nothing to force you, having been warned, to read it; nor do I recommend it.

Punch The Wasp Factory is a first novel not only of tremendous promise, but also of achievement, a minor masterpiece perhaps.

The Times (London) Rubbish!

Times Literary Supplement A literary equivalent of the nastiest brand of juvenile delinquency.

Daily Express Read it if you dare.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 941 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 194 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0684853159
  • Editeur : Abacus; Édition : New Ed (4 septembre 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0349101779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349101774
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.8 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (4 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°59.798 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A lire! 15 mars 2014
Par Overcraft TOP 1000 COMMENTATEURS
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Un peu long à démarrer, le temps de s’accoutumer à la plume de l'auteur et à ce personnage si improbable à en devenir attachant.
Puis on plonge dans nos propres questions au fur et à mesure que les moments passé et présent de cette vie qui se mettent en place page après page pour expliquer ce qui semblait si inexplicable, si différent, si ... fou.
Une très belle histoire qui vaut le détour, tant pour la réflexion que pour l'exercice de la lecture en langue étrangère (anglais très bien écrit tout en restant facile à lire).
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Strange and fantastic. 19 août 2013
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
A strange, very well written story with a perfect twist. The atmosphere is perfectly captured and you can visualize every scene and feel what Frank feels.
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2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Tough and madely surprising 10 mars 2003
This is the first novel I read of Iain Banks, I found it quite hard to get into but once the story was started I just couldn't put it down again. An insiders view of someones past, present and future has all the realness that makes this madness sound possible. Just read it and you'll see.
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Present for someone who hasn't yet discovered Ian Banks.. 12 décembre 2012
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Bought this as a present for a friend who reads alot but hadn't yet discovered ian Banks, so I had to give him the cult book first!
I have read this book at least 6 times, just love it...
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.8 étoiles sur 5  250 commentaires
53 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Disturbing...not for the faint of heart 30 mars 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur
This is the first book by Iain Banks and the only one I've read. It is graphically violent and disgustingly twisted. It describes murders of young children and torture of small animals. And in all of this it manages to be a very captivating novel with an air of mystery that only resovles itself at the end of the book. Narrated by a psychopathic 16 year old boy, Banks takes the reader on a tour of a family with a psychotic past, a town where no one's dog is ever safe, and the mind of a killer. In the final chapters, the book switches it's focus, and the lines are blurred between victim and torturer. Because of the graphic descriptions of terrible acts (massacre of a group of rabbits, burning of dogs, the sight that drove Eric crazy) 'The Wasp Factory is not for everyone. But if you can wade through the blood and stomach the descriptions, you will end up with a story that will disturb and shake up your beliefs.
195 internautes sur 238 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Rubbish? No, but not brilliant, either. 3 avril 2000
Par Adam P. Lounsbery - Publié sur
This book was recommended to me by a friend, who said he loved its wicked sense of humor. Named one of the best 100 novels of the last century by The Independent, "The Wasp Factory" certainly seems to have a strong cult following, as most of the highly favorable reviews here attest, but I find all this rather baffling. While not by any means a terrible book, Iain Banks's first novel is simply too messy and amateurish to qualify as a great novel. First of all, enjoying this book requires that one have a high tolerance for detailed descriptions of cruelty to animals, including the mutilation and immolation of many rabbits and dogs. Some of the violence in the book is actually quite funny, and can be enjoyed on a certain macabre level -- such as the narrator's description of an uncle's suicide gone terribly wrong -- but most of it is simply too dark and literally described to be laughable. It often seems that Banks is trying to shock without really thinking of the larger implications of any of the book's violence. While I read "The Wasp Factory," I kept hoping for a denouement that would tie everything together and create a resonance that the bulk of the novel lacked. Unfortunately, all I got was a transparent twist that lent nothing to the events that had preceded it, and seemed designed only to shock. In truth, the novel's twist is no more profound than the climax of the slasher film "Sleepaway Camp." I got the feeling that Banks really felt he was creating something on the level of an O. Henry story, but what he ended up with is a book that reads like a juvenile poison pen letter to all of humanity, and little more.
34 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Delinquency with a twist 10 décembre 2004
Par CreepyT - Publié sur
"My dad's an eccentric.....I suppose I am, too....But it doesn't bother me. There are a lot madder people about the place" (Banks, 111).

Frank Cauldhame is a sixteen year old juvenile delinquent with a quirky, to say the least, personality. He's got a penchant for death, destruction, mayhem and mischief. He's also highly superstitious. Combine these aforementioned traits with intelligence, methodicism, and zeal, and you have a potentially dangerous character on your hands. Rather than shy away from this odd hodge-podge of personality traits, Iain banks chooses to dissect them, exploring various nooks and crannies within his book The Wasp Factory.

Among the ranks of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman, and Exquisite Corpse's Andrew Compton and Jay Byrne, Frank Cauldhame calmly and casually admits within the early pages of this book that he has killed three of his family members. From there, the reader follows a day in the life of Frank, in which animal slaughter, war games, and thoughtful introspection are the norm.

However, the eccentricities of Frank and his world would not be complete without and accompanying eccentric family. Frank's father, Angus, is quite and contemplative, exchanging only a few words with his son daily regarding the measurements of household items. Frank's older brother, Eric, however, chooses the more in-your-face approach with which to display his unconventional nature. Eric, placed in an asylum some time ago for setting fire to dogs and forcing children to eat worms, has escaped and spends a good chunk of the book finding his way back home to the family with whom he fits so well.

Ultimately, this book is about the secluded, egocentric, alternate world in which Frank creates his own uniquely personal reality shaped by his past experiences, relations, philosophy, ideals and intuition. As far from "normal" as these people may seem, you can't help but find the slightest connection with the characters (as repellent as that notion may seem). "All our lives are symbols. Everything we do is part of a pattern we have at least some say in. The strong make their own patterns and influence other people's, the weak have their courses mapped out for them. The weak and the unlucky, and the stupid" (Banks, 117). Clearly, Frank is none of those (at least from his own perspective).

I must admit, however, that I felt the plot was slightly less developed than it could have been. Some of the characters, including Jamie the Dwarf, and Frank's father, felt extremely one-dimensional. A quote on the back cover from The Independent claims that this is "One of the top 100 novels of the century." Though I found this to be an intriguing read, I wouldn't quite go that far. I simply didn't find the plot to be quite as "gripping" as other people have stated. Controversial, unsettling, and fascinating...yes. A definite must-read...not really.

I look forward to reading what else Iain Banks has to offer, as this was a decent debut from an author with a freshly intriguing voice. Hopefully he has expanded upon the solid foundation laid herein.
12 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 . 14 juin 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur
I found 'The Wasp Factory' enjoyable mainly for its ideas and certain aspects of its style. That is to say, I liked the Factory itself, I liked the sacrifice poles, and the accounts of the murders, and basically everything having anything to do with Frankie's odd, personalized occult system. I enjoyed the distorted sense of reality and the surreal atmosphere. And I was rather charmed with Frankie's father, a fascinating, well-painted, amusing, and somewhat creepy character.
Most everything else about the book annoyed or disappointed me in some way. My appreciation for Frankie's father didn't extend to his brother Eric, who didn't feel real enough and was WAY too cliche-insane, particularly in his (weak) phone conversations w/ Frankie. And Frankie himself didn't feel nearly as fleshed-out as he should've been: he always felt somehow off to me, as if the author didn't quite have a full handle on him.
In general, I liked the ideas and the style of the story, but I didn't like the way the text carried them. The writing felt a bit awkward and tell-tale-ish ("I went to the beach and then I did this and then I got tired so I rode my bike along the creek and when I got to the bump I jumped it like I used to as a kid and finally I got back to the house for lunch and ... etc. etc.) -- and at points it was flat-out boring. The atmosphere of the actual story and the style of the *writing* seemed somehow at odds with each other. I never felt quite as immersed or gripped as I felt I could have been, had the author known how to render his material more effectively.
I found the unusual ending of the book interesting in and of itself, but I didn't feel like the story had really built up to this particular revelation. In general I felt as if Mr. Banks had made up the entire story more or less as he went along, maybe going back to add in something here and there. It didn't feel very cohesively orchestrated as fiction.
When all is said and done, I did enjoy the book and am glad I picked it up. But I don't see why anyone would herald it as a "masterpiece" in any respect, aside from goth dorks who equate anything with a dark/mystical atmosphere with "brilliance." The ideas and details are strong, but the book as a whole is mediocre at best.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 excellent surprise ending 22 juillet 2010
Par Patty - Publié sur
I was very curious about this book after reading the mixed reviews, so I checked it out from the library. The hardcover edition is only 164 pages, a short read. Yes, there are disturbing and graphic events in this work of fiction--but it is a work of fiction. I don't really understand the very vehement responses of some readers, one who even said she threw it in the trash. I am always surprised that people want to criticize and hide from violence described in novels, but they seem apathetic to horrible and abundant violence going on around us in the real world. Where is the outrage at real events? And why is it that people seem more disturbed by violence to animals than by violence to people? There are murders described in detail in the book, but the focus of the criticisms by readers was on what happens to rabbits and dogs. Don't get me wrong, violence to animals is disturbing, but I have a hard time understanding how people can obsess about cruelty to animals and gloss over homicide of children.

The book is written in the first person, so you really get into the mind of the main character, Frank. The story is very creative, fascinating, and has a surprising plot twist at the end. If you can stomach reading about violence and the extremely unfortunate events that plague this family, it's definitely worth reading. If you have a hard time with the dark themes and vivid and disturbing imagery, I advise not reading anything written by Iain Banks. This is the fourth book of his that I've read, and they're all like this. If you enjoy delving into human psychology through fiction, you'll enjoy his books.
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