Espedair Street

By Iain Banks

This is my first book by Iain Banks (RIP), probably won’t be my last – no, definitely won’t be my last. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, as it’s not my usual choice of read, being a huge crime fiction fan.

Anyway, what made me pick this one up? Well, for a start I found it in a charity shop. I’d also heard a lot about the author and most of it was good so, I thought, why not. Plus the subject matter was interesting.

Daniel Weir: a retired rock star at the age of thirty-one. Well, blimey, that was hooky in itself. The first line: ‘Two days ago I decided to kill myself’ was a killer start (pardon the pun). So there I was, reading in this brightly lit charity shop and thinking: ‘I should really buy this’ …

What makes this book so fascinating is the insight of the main character: Weird – Weir, D … get it? Ha! I can’t count how many times I thought ‘yeah, so true’ as I read. I suppose, in essence, it’s a self-realising tale. As the story unfolds we get to see this young adult grow into a man and it’s pretty enthralling (well, I thought so). He probably encounters more than his fair share of sadness, which is ‘par for the course’ in the drugs and drink addled world of the music business. If you don’t drink or snort you don’t fit in. But what tipped the balance for me was the considered personality of Dan; his vision of life (his life) and the emotional turmoil of being the centre of attention.

Paraphrasing: ‘I hid myself at the back behind mirrored sunglasses and bass guitar …’ a genius songwriter too shy to show himself to the world he was desperate to be a part of. It had me thinking that to be known in whatever creative avenue you found yourself, it was hard to stay anonymous. The world has to know everything, but is it any of the world’s business, really, who you are? Why can’t the words, the music, or the story be enough?

It’s a thought-provoking book and one I enjoyed reading even with a tear in my eye.

Espedair Street: £2.46 from Amazon.



  1. Thanks, Michael. It’s nice to read this review, and to catch up with you too. I’ll read more Ian Banks in future. 🙂

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