I generally have the same reaction whenever I read one of these books; I start out very confused, because Banks has this annoying tendency of over-describing everything and also purposely omitting the names of the characters in each scene until much later; then I get sucked into the story and the idea of the Culture itself; and then, finally, I get punched in the face by the ending. Each ending in these books is generally pretty bleak, and "Use of Weapons" might be the bleakest - and the twist, revealed in the final sentences of the story, is an absolute mindfuck.
Next up: The Watchmen.
Dinner tonight with friends at Il Bastardo. It's been a while since I ate out with friends; my stomach has been really good recently, though, especially since I started taking the thyroid medicine, and so I'm hopeful it won't be that big a deal.