I've just recently finished reading The Quarry by Iain Banks, his last novel. I put off reading it for a while because I assumed that it would be quite upsetting for me to read, knowing that the story was about a man dying of cancer, written by a man who has recently died of cancer. And not just any man, but someone who was, to me at least, a literary hero. Many authors I love were long since dead before I had even heard of them, so it was nice to have an author who was still about and still writing, although many of his recent books, whilst still saying something interesting about the human condition, did not reach the awesome heights of The Crow Road, Complicity or The Wasp Factory for me. Having said that, The Quarry, is, in my opinion, his best book for a while, which just makes it all the more bittersweet that it was his last. The aspect of the novel that struck me the deepest, apart from the ‘facing your own mortality’ facet, was the complex nature of the feelings that the character who was dying, Guy, had towards his old friends. The way he moaned at and about his friends, his frustration towards them combined with a sense of belonging and nostalgia, was very familiar to me. It felt like a very honest account of what it truly is to love a friend. Because I do get frustrated with my friends, hurt by them, I feel in reaction to their choices as though those choices they were my own. I find it hard to be measured and rational in response to their actions because I’m utterly emotionally invested in them. I hold them to same high standard that I fail to live up to myself. This is not because I see my friends as useless, it is because, to me, they are awesome, and yet they often don’t seem to realise it. They have all this potential and intelligence and ability, and I want them to reach for the stars, and that is why I get frustrated when they underestimate themselves.