I would have picked this book up in any case, as I’m a big fan of Banks and could probably enjoy reading him write about the intracacies of inventory management, but since we are headed to Scotland next September, I found this book–about Scotch whiskey and the Scotland distilleries that make it–quite fortuitious. This is Banks’s first book of non-fiction, having made his career on both the literary fiction that appears under his own name and the science fiction that appears under his obvious nom de plume of “Iain M. Banks” (a full explanation of just why appears within this current text), and he spends quite a bit of time just coming to terms with the joy that is his as a successful author who can suggest to his publisher that he write a book based on his hobby–drinking whiskey–and then actually get paid for not only writing it, but have an expense account with which he can indulge his hobbistic fantasies. And, of course, there’s all the friends who are incredulous at first, but quick to offer to lend a hand (well, I would have, too!).
As a tour book or even a guide to Scotland and its distilleries, this is a poor entry, but as a travel book in which something is discovered about the land and the man,Raw Spirit fits the bill perfectly. Perhaps there’s something inherently Scottish in the fact that this could likely have been billed as Banks’s autobiography, rather than a drinking quest. In either case, it’s probably of much more interest to a fan of the man than a fan of the drink. Even as such, I identified a number of potential stops along the way for my own trip as well as now having a template for my own travel diary.
[Finished 25 Nov 2004]