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Walking On Glass
(Iain Banks)

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This book hardly classifies as a novel, because it comprises three slightly interwoven surreal sub-novels.
Graham Park is a young man in love. Each of the six chapters of
this sub-novel is named after a street he walks to his beloved's house.
Each street is a reflection on parts of their relationship. As he
approaches the house, he recalls the history of this bizarre love for
the mysterious Sara Ffitch (sic!). In a classic Banks style, also
reminiscent of David Lynch, it becomes obvious that something is amiss
or just a little bit nauseously wrong.
The sub-novel with Steven Grout reveals a man who thinks
himself a veteran of a cataclysmic war who has been exiled to Earth.
His extra-terrestrial prosecutors use a variety of nefarious devices on
him, such as a microwave gun that makes him to sweat unbearably during
a conversation. He can find neither the prosecutors, nor the devices;
however, he assembles proof just so he could eventually return to his
so-called real life. Each chapter is record of a conversation with a
person in his exilic life, beginning with his former boss, and, as he
quits his job, he interacts, almost as a nod to Dostoyevsky?s
Raskolnikov, with the landlady.
Lastly, Quiss, who is a real-life soldier exiled from a real,
terrible war. Quiss and his comrade are trapped in an eerie and
unwholesome castle, wherein they pass time playing whimsical games.
Each chapter is named after one of the games: One-Dimensional Chess,
Open-Plan Go and so on. The games are the figments of author?s own
imagination: there is nobody else who would invent a form of the Go
game played with infinitely large pieces on board of infinite
dimensions. Should a one of them give a correct answer, they will leave
the labyrinthine prison castle, and, conversely, should one of them
come up with a wrong answer, a symbolically Poe crow would bode
suicide. The tale is more surreal than Beckett, Jarry and Ionesco.

The plots of the three tales intersect at imperceptible scenes;
however, they have one common, dual theme - insanity and
self-deception. Each of the central characters is a prisoner of his own
mind.



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