Debra (Culver City CA)
The Crow Road
I found this novel to be dark, macabre and sometimes funny. Probably if I knew more about Scotland and the culture it would have been more readable, as there were details and phrases that were beyond me. This out of it teenager is presented in a coming of age story that rings true because it is so unusual. However, this is not a universally fascinating Holden Caufield coming of age story. It is too idiosyncratic and unusual for that. Fascination with the past, as well as misunderstandings of the present combine to provide the details of an eccentric and unusual family and the central character. Themes of mortality and identity permeate the novel. For those fascinated with growing up in a different culture it will probably hit the sweet spot.
Dana (Elbridge NY)
The Crow Road
I have never read Iain Banks and at first had a difficult time with the Scottish dialect. I found myself having to go back and reread sections to be sure I really understood what it meant.
I admit I found the book slow going and a challenge, but it was full of interesting personalities, family interactions and a very descriptive writing style.
Jill (Wichita KS)
Complicated, compelling and thoroughly fantastic!
Iain Banks The Crow Road, is pure enjoyment. This compelling and complicated novel starts with a bang (quite literally) as 20-something Prentice McHoan returns to his Scottish hometown to attend the funeral of his grandmother--who explodes at the crematory in the novels first line. To say that the remaining 500 pages of Banks offering are a fun and tricky narrative of a young man coming to grips with death, family and the importance of being aware of who and what is most important to you would sadly water down a fantastic literary gift.
In McHoan, Banks has created a faulted, sometimes frivolous and always wildly entertaining character who introduces us to his merry band of sometimes semi-psycho friends and family as he delves into a family mystery. This is a book best read alone unless you want to spend a lot of time explaining to others why you are often laughing out loud--but it begs for a book club to share it with!
Susan Tereza (Rutledge MO)
A Thoroughly Enjoyable Challenge
Crow Road wasnt an easy read for me; I had to work to understand it. But as I found the challenge (and the writing) extremely enjoyable, I think this is a brilliant book.
My comprehension difficulties were twofold. First, Crow Road is very much a Scottish book, and doesnt appear to have been Americanized (Americanised?) for US publication. Result: I spent a lot of time with the OED looking up words and expressions I didnt know. Since I love dictionary spelunking this was more than fine with me.
The second challenge was due to the writing style. Sudden switches between times and characters and points of view were tremendously confusing at first. As I grew more used to the style, and got to know the characters, time frames and locations better, I found it invigorating rather than frustrating.
So the (eventually) enjoyable challenges of comprehension, plus very clever, often funny writing, and interesting characters and plot twists, made Crow Roada fascinating read for me.
Cam (Murrells Inlet SC)
The Crow Road
This was the the first Iain Banks book that I've read, and was delighted to get the chance to read The Crow Road. I, however, was very disappointed, and agree with Kim who previously reviewed it...it jumped around so much that it was too confusing for me to enjoy.
Vicky (Torrance CA)
Death & Confusion
This book contains mystery, drunkenness, Scottish customs and dialects sometimes difficult to follow - family secrets and romance. I really enjoyed the book and found myself wondering what the characters were doing even a day after finishing the book. I liked that the author presented the story in first person and third person format and included three generations. Book clubs would enjoy the book since there are many actions and thoughts that would start lively discussions.
Kim (Arlington TX)
The Crow Road
The book was hard to get into. It kept switching back & forth between dad's childhood & present & Prentice's childhood & his present. There were times that you were left hanging, not knowing where the theme was going next. I felt it did not let you know there was a mystery until the last 100 pages or so. I can not recommend this book. I would compare it to "The History of Love" (which I finished reading before this one) and had the same feelings for it.