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Espedair Street

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  6,462 ratings  ·  215 reviews
Daniel Weir used to be a famous - not to say infamous - rock star. Maybe still is. At thirty-one he has been both a brilliant failure and a dull success. He's made a lot of mistakes that have paid off and a lot of smart moves he'll regret forever (however long that turns out to be). Daniel Weir has gone from rags to riches and back, and managed to hold onto them both, thou ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 5th 2001 by Little, Brown (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  6,462 ratings  ·  215 reviews

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Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Everything seems to take about the right amount of time at the time, but later...Jeez, where did it all go? You look back, and sometimes you think, Did I really do all that? And other times you think. Is that all there is? Is that all I managed to get done? We are never satisfied. Don’t even know the meaning of the word.”
Daniel Wier has a story to tell. A story of his search for satisfaction. A writer of songs, a bass player and a man who nearly loses his way as a member of the successful
Nov 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marcicle
I’ve always been impressed by Iain (M.) Banks range.

Whether he’s writing about an hermaphroditic serial killer and his/her mechanical wasp oracle, a man in a coma living a second life on a vast hyperreal bridge of the mind, a bored gamer compelled by artificial intelligences to play the ultimate game on a distant planet, or a brilliant woman whose place in an omnipotent corporation takes her to a kingdom in the Himalayas, Banks always maintains his artistry and deliberate social relevance witho
Nov 22, 2008 rated it liked it
They're supposedly just friends. But now they're lying naked on the beach together, looking up at the stars with no one else in sight, and he's trying to find a tactful way to explain how he feels about her. (This kind of thing seems to happen more frequently to rock stars than it does to me). Luckily, she's a practical girl with good night vision.

"Are you pointing at anything in particular?" she asks.
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
First of all, this is NOT a book by "Iain M. Banks" - it's by Iain Banks (in other words, it's fiction, not science-fiction). Second, why he's so difficult to find in the US I'll never know. Every book I've read is just good, solid fiction writing, equal to Julian Barnes, Robertson Davies and many other top echelon writers.

Espedair Street is a real street, but it barely figures in this tale of Wierd, the stage name for one Daniel Weir (in school he was Weir, D. - get it?). He's the l
After learning about the untimely passing of Iain Banks a few years ago, I made it a task that I would finish reading his quite substantial body of work, both his contemporary novels (of which I had read several over the years, starting with the infamous Wasp Factory back in the very early 1990's) and his Science Fiction based ones, written under Iain M. Banks. In fact I had started on the Culture novels before I learned he was dying. He was a great writer, his contemporary, more 'mainstream' bo ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
At first I was wondering what all the fuss was about, why some friends thought this was Banks' masterpiece. It seemed a fairly simple tale of a rock star looking back [from the dizzy heights of his early thirties!] on his life so far with the way his band was formed and how he felt about it now. But gradually I realised there was more to it than that, the book's structure more complex and the layers within the plot more intriguing. As Danny's life was revealed, so I became more fascinated with t ...more
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just brilliant. I love Iain Banks' books. I laughed. I thought. I cried. I walked in another's shoes. You can't ask for more.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Owain Lewis
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
No, sorry, I just didn't buy it. I think setting up his narrator as a former big name in the world of late sixties/early seventies rock, operating in the same arena as Zepp and Hendrix, was a bad move. We can read biographies/autobiographies of actual rock mega stars and their debauched shenanigans so a fictional narrative is never going to cut it for me. I rather read a story about the ones that didn't make it big. That would be much more believable.
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scotland, 2013
Was less thrilling than other Iain Banks I have read. Still enjoyed it and thought it was interesting. I am from the West of Scotland so it was fun hearing certain places mentioned. I really liked how it switched to during his rockstar years to after his rockstar years.
Marcus Markou
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I bought this having wandered into a book shop aged 16, in the Summer of 1987. I was taken by its strange black and white lumpy cover. We were an immediate match. It was my Catcher in the Rye and Iain Banks was my hero. I have subsequently re-read it and it takes me back to being 16 and all those clumsy feelings about wondering who I would be when I was older and how it would all turn out still reverberate like a favourite song. I have no idea whether this is a good book or not - objectively spe ...more
Kate Stone
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Confession: I’ve never read any of Iain Banks’ work, with or without the middle initial. I’ll be correcting that now that I’ve had my first taste. I’m also a hobbyist musician so the premise here was practically perfect for drawing me in. Draw me in it did, as I found every opportunity to read another few pages, another chapter, just one more revelation to help paint a more complete picture.

The book’s meandering narrative timeline was used as a really effective tool without the handh
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's no wasp factory but this book is excellent! David Weir's search for absolution - I loved the ending and I hope he finds it.
Simon Mcleish
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in September 2003.

Ever since I first read it, not long after it first came out, Espedair Street has been one of my favourite Iain Banks novels. It is his first more or less mainstream novel, neither experimental nor genre fiction, and every time I read it it still manages to amuse and move me.

Espedair Street is a novel which is pretending to be a rock star autobiography; the story of (fictional) seventies band Frozen Gold as told by bass p
Benjamin Richards
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Patricio
Recommended to Benjamin by: Matt
I would have preferred to give it 4.5 stars as but 4 are too few, so 5 it is. I didn't quite know what to expect, I thought the dialogue and the narrative would be quirkier and then I saw when it was written - it surprised me. It seems to me that here in Paisley, Glasgow with its wall's held up by graffiti, Irvine Welsh could easily have drawn inspiration. The only other Iain Banks book I'd read was 'A Song of Stone' (hardback) many years ago, too many years ago, meaning too few years of me, to ...more
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Everybody plays the same game; it's just some people make more money out of their version." (Abacus 1990-2009 version, p138).

This about sums up the facile nature of this book. It is not my stuff, and I'm disappointed past half way through to find it is a rather shallow thing and that Banks, with all his talent, wit and affectionate humour, is neither interesting, novel nor funny in this travesty of talent that is clearly a commercial thing aimed at the young adult market and America
Mark Speed
I loved this novel. As with The Wasp Factory, I have my younger brother to thank. We were both keen musicians in our day, and he was a bassist - as is the protagonist of this story.

It's a first-person recollection by the bassist in a successful supergroup. He was the driving creative person, but always felt a little alien because he wasn't part of the original line-up, and came from a poor working-class background; whereas they're all middle-class. When we meet Daniel Weir he's living as a r
Inside A Dog
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Iain Banks is simply my favourite Scottish author. From the first novel to the last I loved his books. His death in June of this year was a tragic loss to Scottish writing but he left a wonderful legacy. So I can’t envisage my country in books without an Iain Banks novel.

I picked Espedair Street for three reasons – firstly Daniel Weir the main character is the most fantastic of anti-heroes, secondly it’s a brilliant tale of sex, drugs, rock and roll so what’s not to love about it and thirdly I
Andy Cunningham
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Would we have had Irvine Welsh without Iain Banks? Written 6 years before Trainspotting, Espedair Street comes across like the big brother in the family. When Dan Weir, the main character, appears before us in his unkempt, unwashed, awkward, clumsy, misshapen manner, the last thing I was expecting was the story of a 70's rock star coming to terms with the end of a stellar career. But that's what it's about. In fact, the first half of the book feels like a fictional version of a rock stars memoir ...more
Clare Neilson
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Yet another solid classic from Banksy. It's so hard to write a book about music no one has ever heard, but this comes very, very close to getting the songs in your head without ever hearing a note. The mood of the book goes from grim to elation and down again steeply. Banksy has a wicked way with writing character deaths and there's a couple in here you wouldn't believe would be possible, but everything is set up just so, making them as real as any others.

A rock "legend" in hiding th
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
This didn't quite work for me-- I never really believed in Danny Weir, and the kind of music his band makes-- hooky prog?-- doesn't really interest me.

The structure of the book see-saws back and forth, a chapter in the present, where Weird is retired and a little aimless, and then a chapter in the past, tracing the development of the band. Those past chapters mostly focus around Weird relationship, or at least adventures with another member of the band, which is kind of cool, but maybe isn't pu
Rachel Louise Atkin
There is nothing I can fault about Banks' prose. The characters and voices that he creates are always so amazing and interesting, and it's something I'd love to replicate in my own writing.
This is about an old rockstar who's going through a midlife crisis, and we follow him as he reminisces on his life in the band and on tour. It's awesome and funny, and at times thought provoking.
I didn't love this as much as The Wasp Factory because the story wasn't as insane, but Banks is someone
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novel
First-person sulking by an ambivalently Scottish, ambivalently Left, ambivalently alive Standard Banks Man. Book aims to study spiritual clumsiness and pop music, ending up in a mid-life crisis at 30.

Has its moments (“We put a value on what we treasure, and so cheapen it”; this line always gives me goosebumps “her blonde hair slid across the pillow like gold chains over snow (and for an instant I thought Suzanne takes you down…)”).
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I'm so glad that when I asked for recommendations on a good "first" Iain Banks novel to read, I had forgotten that I had read (and didn't enjoy) Wasp Factory. If I had remembered, I would have missed out on this wonderful book. From the start I absolutely loved the voice. The story was funny and sad and I truly cared about Weird's story.
Bobbi Steele
Feb 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
There are few novels as sexist and self-centred as this one. The worst part? It feels like the author is projecting himself in this book. Thankfully, I live in Germany. Wouldn’t want him to see that all women aren’t mothers and sex objects made to please him and his giant ego. Wrote your own songs? It sounds more like you just learned how to write rhymed verse.
Sen Ita
I enjoyed this life affirming honest fictional biopic of a disappointed rock star and his search for meaning but not one of my favourites by Iain Banks.
Helen Cooley
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iain Banks must be one of the most diverse, imaginative authors I've read. You never know what to expect when you pick up one of his books, but you know it will probably be a slightly weird, and rather brilliant story, with a touch of black humour.

Espedair Street is the least challenging/weird of his books that I've read so far, but no less of an excellent read.

Following the rise and fall of Daniel Weir (stage name Weird), a 70s prog rock star, we follow his story from co
Ed Hatfield
Having just looked at Iain Banks's bibliography I noticed how relatively early in his career this particular novel was written. It's good - it's good fiction with his usual very high quality dialogue, excellent immersion into Scottish culture - but it also has a certain melodrama that slips off elsewhere in his better books.

This is still good - maybe I'm just a harsher critic of Iain Banks's books for having read so many of them. As an isolated point this is a decent read but in cont
Ġiljan Agius
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Iain Banks of The Wasp Factory and scifi epics fame crafts a mock biopic about a rock superstar who despite being only in his early thirties, is already in a career twilight. It's veeeery well-written, in elegant flowing prose which happens simultaneously in two timelines, eventful past and tedious (for the protagonist, not the reader) present.

Lots of stuff happens and it's extremely believable, with nods towards the excesses of the seventies and the typical rock star without ever fa
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I might struggle with this, as the first chapter seems like a mass of waffle, however, it changes in the second chapter and comes together to form into a wonderful journey following the teens and twenties of a talented, but highly insecure songwriter. Warmly written, with many sad and many, dare I say, funny bits. It has been compared to a Tony Parsons or Nick Hornby, which, while I can see comparisons does it a disservice.
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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
“And even a small amount of talent can go an appallingly long way, these days.” 25 likes
“... as fur sneak nuclear attacks on anithir country, there was only wan state in history had ever done that, an it wiznae the fuckin Soviet Union.' - McCann” 22 likes
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