A couple of ice cubes, first, then the apple that really started it all. A loft apartment in London’s East End; cool but doomed, demolition and redevelopment slated for the following week. Ken Nott, devoutly contrarian leftish shock-jock attending a mid-week wedding lunch, starts dropping stuff off the roof towards the deserted car park a hundred feet below. Other guests join in and soon half the contents of the flat are following the fruit towards the pitted tarmac… just as mobiles start to ring, and the apartment’s remaining TV is turned on, because apparently a plan has just crashed into the World Trade Center…
Iain Banks’ daring new novel starts with a bang and then accelerates through one man’s political obsessions, manic media manipulations and wildly dangerous private life, speeding through a London of pubs, clubs and geezers of extreme dodginess to a twinned climax of nail-shredding intensity.
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There's no question that the anticipation for each successive Iain Banks novel grows ever greater, and Dead Air is a literary event. The sardonic, inventive prose guarantees a unique reading experience with each new book (the misfires may be counted on one hand), and whatever genre he tackles, Banks is one of the most stimulating writers at work in Britain today.
His protagonist here is Ken Nott, a character as penetratingly realised as ever. He's a committed contrarian, ekeing out a living as a left-wing radio shock-jock in London. He makes his home in a loft apartment in the East End, in a former factory due to be demolished in a few days. After a wedding breakfast, people begin to pitch fruit from a balcony on to a deserted car park 10 storeys below; then they begin dispatching other things: a broken TV, a loudspeaker with a ruptured cone, bean bags and other useless furniture. Then the guests enter a kind of frenzy and start dropping things that are still working, at the same time trashing the rest of the apartment. But suddenly mobile phones start to ring urgently and they're told to turn on the TV, because a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center. And Ken Nott finds his life is to change irrevocably.
Banks's subject here is nothing less than the survival of the individual in the face of a chaotic world. The destruction of personality under the lacerating values of modernity is a subject repeatedly addressed by JG Ballard (and that author's shadow is clearly evident here), and although this is one of the Iain Banks novels in which he pointedly does not use the "M" in his name that marks his science fiction, this nightmare vision of contemporary London has more than a trace of that genre in its sense of fractured reality. But all the caustic humour and dark character development that Banks excels in are fully in place. --Barry ForshawReview:
** 'Banks has pulled off a great double - a deeply satirical and though-provoking thriller that will make you laugh but will also have you shredding your fingernails' SUNDAY EXPRESS ** 'Hugely entertaining' DAILY TELEGRAPH ** 'A Buchanesque adventure yarn set in 21st century London' THE TIMES ** 'A thrilling read, it's a dazzlingly clever, edgy, suspenseful book.' SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY
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Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR006440196