“It was the day my grandmother exploded” – the opening lines in ‘The Crow Road‘ by Iain Banks.
This was the line that brought me and my husband together 15 years ago. It was the part about regret in that story that made my then German friend take a leap of faith and admit that he had fallen in love with an Indian girl whom has has known only for a few months. He gave me the book ‘The Crow Road’, his prized posession when he left India to fly back to Germany and he begged me to think well of him. I read the book and time passed and the idea that I have found “the man” began to take shape in my head and heart. After many emails, phone calls and a visit to his family, I finally agreed to marry him. A year had passed in all this but my love story was just beginning. Is this Iain Banks I am talking about or my husband?
I just read the news that Iain Banks is terminally ill. I hoped that it was a April’s Fools day joke. It is not a prank, although the man himself is a prankster. His books are full of life and characters that are sometimes so screwed-up that you hope they do not exist in reality, although your heart tells you, this could be anyone, even you. I fell in love many times over with his books – be it his sci-fi books or others.
Iain Banks’ “Raw Spirit” is one of those books that I have read more than 10 times. I have never tried whisky and have no intention of trying it either but just the idea of single-malt whisky that Iain provokes in my mind is so delectable that I am sure no real single-malt can ever match its smooth, silky and svelte texture. Whisky, as he describes is something so ephemeral that you can only imagine it, not drink it. And the Scotland that is in my head, as described in his books, is a place that could be Gotham City – dark, dank, industrial with lots of steel-and-glass or it could be a fairy-land like Hobbiton. It could be any place real or imaginary and yet uniquely Scottish, because he made it so.
As for my most secret love – his Culture Ships. I did not consider myself Objectophile and perhaps I am still not, as ‘Minds’ with a capital ‘M’ are not inanimate objects. They have an IQ – they can invent the Turing Test on their own, not just merely pass them. They are not robots or artificial intelligence, they are more than that – they are magnificent! They also have Character and emotions and I love them! And the Mind behind all these characters, is the mind that I love the most.
Mr. Banks writes on such a grand scale that inspires awe, his words are eloquent, his arguments pointed. His inimitable fluid style is what everyone should be studying at ‘Creative Writing for Experts’. He can make you laugh and cry at the same time, he can confound you and trick you, he can also describe the simplest things with such tenderness that you wonder whether he is doing it to mellow you so that he can spring a surprise on you or whether its just a whimsy on his part.
Iain M. Banks is being called many things superlative, but for me, he is our cupid and reason, he will always remain ‘the man that still makes my marriage work’.
This sounds like an obituary or a tribute – I do not want that. I do not want him to stop but if he has to, I send him all my love and many thanks.