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IAIN BANKS – WHIT. Abacus 1995  

 

There are lots of stories in which someone isolated from the world at large for most of their life suddenly finds that they have go out into modern society. Whit is one of the best such stories available. A young lady, Whit has been raised in a remote insular Scottish religious communal sect, possibly modeled on the Findhorn Society. One day, her peaceful happy existence is shattered when she is sent on an urgent quest to find her errant sister, who left the cult for the big world outside. Whit suddenly has head for modern industrial commercial civilization. She begins her journey by paddling a coracle through the canals. Soon, however, she has to come to terms with traveling by car, and she witnesses through fresh often highly critical eyes all of our modern consumerism and rampant me me me materialism. She is not without resourcefulness despite her naivety. Faced with sexual assault, she takes down her attacker with water pistols filled with Tabasco sauce.  She leaves her assailant temporarily blinded.  Her sightings in the real world stretch her faith to its limits and the clues about her sister’s whereabouts lead her to uncover a difficult truth. For all itself meaning sincerity, her faith is based on a foundation of lies.  Whit finds her sister who is working as an exotic dancer, and then heads for home. The finale is poignant as Whit prepares to tell the full truth about her discoveries. This is a story about waking up to painful truths that may not be easy to accept, but which ultimately leave us better off for our knowledge. He rest the sect is about to be drawn into the real world just as Whit was herself. It is a beautiful, poignant, often funny, always tender story. Banks undoubtedly has an atheistic agenda, but it doesn’t turn the story into a manifesto or propaganda. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/6422/rev1233.html

 

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