death of Iain Banks this week - something that was clearly going to happen some time in the year or so following his announcement back in April that he was suffering from late-stage gall bladder cancer, and occasional status updates since, but a mere two months seems a bit harsh.
I own fifteen Iain Banks books, of which three are as yet unread, so I feel qualified and indeed obliged to chime in with some views on which ones are the best, as pretty much everyone else has done. If I were in some imaginary situation where I had to recommend a couple from each of his literary genres (i.e. two non-Ms and two Ms) I would probably go for The Wasp Factory, Whit, Consider Phlebas and Inversions. If I were inclined to second-guess my own choices I'd say that I probably choose these because The Wasp Factory and Consider Phlebas are the first books he published in each of his two chosen genres and consequently they're full of freshness and energy and ideas, and Whit and Inversions are the two books which crystallise most explicitly his scorn of organised religion, or indeed any sort of religion - he liked to describe himself as an "evangelical atheist".
Banks was also a whisky enthusiast, to the extent not only of writing a book, Raw Spirit, about it, but also of taking "malt whisky and the distilleries of Scotland" as his specialist subject when he competed in (and won) Celebrity Mastermind in 2005. It's hard to be objective and honest when you've got the answers in front of you, but I reckon I would have scored eight (Banks scored twelve). Anyway, if you've got some in the cupboard might I suggest raising a small glass in his memory later. I might even join you.