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Stonemouth

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  4,633 Ratings  ·  495 Reviews
Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth. After 5 years in exile his presence is required at the funeral of patriarch Joe Murston, and even though the last time Stu saw the Murstons he was running for his life, staying away might be even more dangerous than turning up.
Hardcover, 357 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by Little, Brown (first published 2012)
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Jeff I'm reading this one now; but try The Crow Road, another visit home for a funeral, with all the family history that dredges up.

Community Reviews

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karen
Nov 04, 2012 karen rated it really liked it

iain (m.) banks writes supersmart sci-fi books that "you wouldn't understand, karen."

but he also wrote this, which i am proud to say i completely understand, and i really enjoyed.

it is a crime thriller, set in a small town in scotland, which is presided over by two competing, but not actively warring, gangster families who have made their fortunes and reputations getting their hands dirty. and not by doing any manual labor, yeah? although whacking people is, i suppose, technically "manual."

stew
...more
Algernon
Apr 10, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013

This is not a sympathy vote for a writer fighting against cancer. Stonemouth might be my top romance read of this year. I was already familiar with the daring, Big concept, galaxy spawning Culture books, but there is little to recognize in style and in plot when the writer turns towards contemporary fiction, towards the intimate, the understated character study. If I were to find a term of comparison, I would go for Graham Joyce, writing about growing up in a small town, learning about death and
...more
Martin
Sep 10, 2012 Martin rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I've read everything Banks has written and think this is probably his best, certainly up there with them anyway and better than his recent novels. Why? Because its a simple story written very well. He doesn't confuse the reader with science or technology, this book is set in the real world and is utterly believable. Such is his way that I couldn't help but read it quickly but then I realised I'd finished it and was going to miss it. The relationship between Stewart and Ellie a ...more
Bettie☯
Melissa
Dec 06, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David
Jun 22, 2012 David rated it liked it
It's always a fairly comfy kind of feeling when Iain Banks returns to writing about a parochial small town in Scotland, even more so when he's got strained personal relationships and matters of family hierarchy to deal with. You can tell he's deep within his comfort zone by the beauty of his prose, so few writers manage to maintain the pace of an airport read while maintaining a real earthy dark lyricism. So far so good.
Iain seems to have written this book by creating a huge cast of characters,
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Ben Thurley
Oct 06, 2012 Ben Thurley rated it it was ok
I really like Iain M Banks (Iain Banks' sci-fi alter ego). I also love a lot of Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory, The Bridge and A Song of Stone especially.

But I really am quite tired of Banks’ wordy, trendy, pharmaceutically-enlightened, politically-spot-on, smart-arse characters. As for the the plot... the return to town, and reunion with the lost love unfolds with an irritating inevitability. Attempts to build intrigue seem half-hearted. Moral dilemmas around drugs, sex, work, celebrity all come
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Andrew Brown
Aug 29, 2011 Andrew Brown rated it it was ok
I am a big fan of Iain Banks' work; he is just about the only author whose books I get when they are released in hardback, rather than wait on the paperback publication. I've also started reading his Science Fiction works, published as Iain M Banks, but for the sake of clarity references to his oeuvre in this review are specifically to the "non-M" books.

After a number of books which failed to reach the heights of his previous works, his last book, Transition, was something of a return to form. I
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Katerina
Я как-то накатала огромный пост про Бэнкса в ЖЖ и успокоилась, но это совершенно зря. Про Stonemouth надо обязательно написать отдельно.

Так вот.

Stonemouth -- история о том, как парень возвращается в городок своего детства, из которого пять лет назад он был вынужден скоропостижно бежать при каких-то невыясненных, но очень драматических обстоятельствах. Несмотря на то, что город маленький, в нем, помимо шахтеров и сумасшедших пейзажей, есть целых два мафиозных клана, один остроумный гей и одна оч
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Ian Mapp
Jul 15, 2012 Ian Mapp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-fict
Its only when you read a master storyteller that you realise that most of what you have been recently reading has been very poor in comparison.

Banks is back on familar ground. We have remote scottish towns, young love, a past drama, funerals - all the usual subjects are ticked. Told from Stewart Gilmours perspective. He is returning to Stonemouth after being driven out of town 5 years previously. His mistake was taking up with a crime families daughter and getting cauaght cheating on her in the
...more
Jonfaith
Nov 01, 2012 Jonfaith rated it really liked it
Nostalgia and Privilege are linked and perhaps inverted in this strange tale which avoids the grisly but doesn't provoke constant laughter. Banks may simply be referring to small town Scotland. He may also be speaking of the EU. There was considerable space where history is to forgiven for mutual advantage. That may be my dizzy head .


The hero of the narrative is caught with his pants down and must return home five years after the fact. There is a Crow Road analysis under way. It isn't concluded.
...more
Andrew Smith
May 04, 2012 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it
The dialogue in this book is superb, I could see how it would translate into great TV or film. This is a thoroughly good yarn too; centred around a found man who skips town after upsetting a local crime family, the plot held my attention throughout, as did the love story which is the real meat of the book. In summary, it's an excellent read and in my eyes only fell short of 5 stars because it's not quite as good as Dead Air (not many books are!)
Pauline Ross
This is one of those odd books that I found enjoyable to read at the time, but when I put it down, I lapsed into so-what? apathy. The premise is a fairly trite one. A mid-twenties man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, and spends the time reminiscing about growing up, being astonished at the changes that have taken place and equally astonished at the things that remain unchanged, and resolving a few loose ends from his departure five years before. So far, so ho-hum. The twist here is t ...more
Frank O'connor
Apr 04, 2012 Frank O'connor rated it it was amazing
This is a book about the relationship between the past and the present. It is a subject Banks writes about a lot, and a common factor between his realist fiction and science-fiction. In the latter case, the present happens to be the past, in the former, vice-versa.

The protagonist specializes in floodlighting and his first word is 'Clarity'. This automatically makes me think he will be an unreliable narrator but Banks could well be playing a double-bluff game. That opening word also reads like an
...more
James
Apr 09, 2012 James rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
I was holding off this review until I re-read the book, just to make sure that I wasn't going to damn it with faint praise. The fact that I couldn't be bothered to get more than a few chapters into it a second time should really be all I need to say.

However, as a massive Iain (M) Banks fan, Stonemouth just comes across as Banks-lite, something I think that any good writer - and IMB is a great writer - could knock off without raising too much sweat. The plot burbles along nicely, no great twists
...more
Ray
Jan 07, 2013 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
a good book, funny and touching, with a vein of danger and darkness

it has all the banks staples - humour, irony, secrets, history and episodes of sickening violence. my kind of book. some fantastic characters, particularly ferg - an alcoholic omnisexual with a penchant for withering one liners

perhaps a little sentimental for banks, makes it a 4.5 in lieu of a 5
Roger Brunyate
Romance Noir

Scottish writer Iain Banks died earlier this year [2013]. I had not heard of him until seeing his name in the best-of-the-year lists of several writers for the Guardian and the Observer, so I thought I would try one. At random, though; I have no idea if this novel is among his best or even typical of his style. But it is pretty darned impressive.

Open the book, and you immediately wonder whether this should not have been shelved in the mystery and thriller section. It begins in typica
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Josh Ang
Apr 14, 2013 Josh Ang rated it it was ok
A young man, Stewart, returns to the small town that he grew up in to attend the funeral of an elder of an influential and shady family and revisits old wounds and the act of indiscretion that causes him to leave his childhood home in the first place. The premise is interesting enough, but the patchy writing and stilted dialogue are letdowns to an otherwise promising story.

Perhaps Banks tries too hard to make the setting and the youth of the protagonist credible - e.g. isn't it always the young
...more
Nigel
Jul 30, 2012 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I suppose this marks a return to form of sorts for Iain Banks. With the thesis-undermining caveats that I haven't read Steep Approach To Garbadale and I bloody loved Transition, Banks' non-M books have been pretty lacking since Whit. Generally readable and fun - if you ignore Song Of Stone - but lacking in depth, perhaps, with his customary skill, narrative flair, formidable imagination and exquisite writing all more or less present and correct, but not quite gelling to produce more than the sum ...more
David
Apr 05, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, thriller
The author's name "Iain Banks" usually means science fiction to me. I was quite surprised by this remarkable novel. Stewart Gilmour returns to the gritty town of Stonemouth in Scotland, after five years of exile. We don't really know why he was exiled, but it had something to do with one (or both) of the crime families in the town. Banks maintains a tension as the story bounces between the present time and events that occurred five years ago. There is always an undercurrent of dark hatred and po ...more
Tony
Jan 14, 2013 Tony rated it it was ok
STONEMOUTH. (2012). Iain Banks. **.
In the small town of Stonemouth, Stewart Gilmore has returned to attend a funeral. You can tell that he is not necessarily welcome by a certain family there, and has to check with their members that his being there for that function is OK. If it weren’t, he would likely leave there in worse shape than he came. We don’t know what he did, and it takes almost more than 1/3 of the book to find out. To get to that point, we have to put up with Stu’s internal narrat
...more
Dan Coxon
Jan 08, 2013 Dan Coxon rated it liked it
I'd heard this was a return to form, but it feels more like Banks-by-numbers. Many of his annoying quirks are still intact: the adolescent worldview where every girl is a stunner and every guy is a witty Wilde-wannabe, the occasional rant on political issues, the scant plotting. I know they're what make Banks who he is, but I wish he'd tone some of them down from time to time. The biggest disappointment of all is the slow, obvious plotting - somewhere along the way he's lost the ability to surpr ...more
Raja Ram
May 04, 2013 Raja Ram rated it really liked it
Another enjoyable book from Ian Banks. Knowing that Ian was at deaths door did fill me with sadness as I turned the pages. His clever story telling (you never knew what you were going to get), sense of humour and hugely likeable characters will soon be coming to an end but will not be forgotten.

The book was well written evoking memories of the Crow Road at times. I'm not sure I'd want to live in Stonemouth or befriend the Murstons but I couldn't wait to find out how Stewart Gilmour's return wou
...more
Calzean
Stewart Gilmour returns to his old hometown near Aberdeen to attend a funeral. He fled 5 years previously and was chased out of town by the local mob family. There is no secret or drama about his leaving - a sexual encounter a week before his wedding to Ellie, the beautiful granddaughter to the now dead mobster, saw him being chased out of town by the family seeking blood for bringing shame to the family.
The book covers contemporary Scotland, iPhones, homosexuality, agnostics, drugs, as well as
...more
Lou Robinson
Apr 29, 2013 Lou Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-book-club
I really really really enjoyed Stonemouth. It's a very typical Iain Banks with definite comparisons to The Crow Road. It's set in a remote Scottish village with a cast of violent mafia styled characters (Are the Murstons really the Sopranos?) There's drugs, sex, gambling, murder....Stonemouth has it all. Sadly, there won't be any more books from Iain Banks. I've still got The Quarry to read and I think I'll go back through some of the older novels over time. But if you've never read any of his s ...more
Peter Allard
Jul 31, 2015 Peter Allard rated it liked it
A young man foolishly cheats on his fiancé. Her family are the biggest gangsters in town, and he has to run away. Five years later he is allowed to return to attend a funeral, but emotions are still running high.
I was going to give it four stars until the 'happy' ending. Never the less, very well written, amusing and entertaining.
Susan
Feb 12, 2017 Susan rated it really liked it
My first Iain Banks novel and it was impressive. Looking forward to getting to know this prolific storyteller. Lovely Scottish family tale of love, betrayal, murder, drugs, drink and friendship in a town that hasn't changed a bit in decades.
Jim Kerr
Mar 09, 2017 Jim Kerr rated it it was amazing
Wow!
Alan
Apr 30, 2013 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tossers trying to make good
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work, though usually with the "M."
The basic shape of Stonemouth is plain from the beginning. Stewart Gilmour did something very, very stupid—life-threateningly stupid, in fact. He got caught, and was exiled from the Scottish coastal town of Stonemouth, north of Aberdeen, which had heretofore been his home. He's been gone for five years, done fairly well for himself in London while he was away, and now he's been permitted to return under special dispensation in order to attend the funeral of Joe Murston, the patriarch of the Murs ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
I've mentioned before about how The Crow Road is one of my favourite ever books. Banks as a writer is one of the most varied I have ever come across - to make things confusing he also writes science fiction under the name Iain M Banks. The next thing of his that I ever read was The Wasp Factory which made me want to cry and haunted my dreams - reviews described it as a work of 'unparalleled depravity'. It was different, I'll give it that. I remember deciding to try The Steep Approach to Garbadal ...more
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This author also published science fiction under the pseudonym Iain M. Banks.

Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, living in Edi
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“Marriage is about compromising,’ he told me. ‘Families are about compromising, being anything other than a hermit is about compromising. Parliamentary democracy certainly is.’ He snorted. ‘Nothing but.’ He drained his glass. ‘You either learn to compromise or you resign yourself to shouting from the sidelines for the rest of your life.’ He looked thoughtful. ‘Or you arrange to become a dictator. There’s always that, I suppose.’ He shrugged. ‘Not a great set of choices, really, but that’s the price we pay for living together. And it’s that or solitude. Then you really do become a wanker. Another drink?” 1 likes
“This is so much like the old days. And, again, I have mixed feelings. In some ways it's good and comfortable to be fitting straight back in like I've never been away, but, on the other hand, I'm getting this constrictive feeling as well. It's the same places - like the bars and pubs on Friday night - the same people, the same conversations, the same arguments and the same attitudes. Five years away and not much seems to have changed. I can't decide if this is good or bad.” 0 likes
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