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Wade Whitehouse is an improbable protagonist for a tragedy. A well-digger and policeman in a bleak New Hampshire town, he is a former high-school star gone to beer fat, a loner with a mean streak. It is a mark of Russell Banks' artistry and understanding that Wade comes to loom in one's mind as a blue-collar American Everyman afflicted by the dark secret of the macho tradition. Told by his articulate, equally scarred younger brother, Wade's story becomes as spellbinding and inexorable as a fuse burning its way to the dynamite.
With The Angel on the Roof, Russell Banks offers readers an astonishing collection of thirty years of his short fiction, revised especially for this volume and highlighted by the inclusion of nine new stories that are among the finest he has ever written. As is characteristic of all of Bank's works, these stories resonate with irony and compassion, honesty and insight, extending into the vast territory of the heart and the world, from working-class New England to Florida and the Caribbean and Africa. Broad in scope and rich in imagination, The Angel on the Roof affirms Russell Banks's place as one of the masters of American storytelling.
Russell Banks explores the complexities of political life in the Caribbean.
A triumph of the imagination and a masterpiece of modern storytelling, Cloudsplitter is narrated by the enigmatic Owen Brown, last surviving son of America's most famous and still controversial political terrorist and martyr, John Brown. Deeply researched, brilliantly plotted, and peopled with a cast of unforgettable characters both historical and wholly invented, Cloudsplitter is dazzling in its re-creation of the political and social landscape of our history during the years before the Civil War, when slavery was tearing the country apart. But within this broader scope, Russell Banks has given us a riveting, suspenseful, heartbreaking narrative filled with intimate scenes of domestic life, of violence and action in battle, of romance and familial life and death that make the reader feel in astonishing ways what it is like to be alive in that time.
Now available for the first time in e-book format, a powerful literary classic from one of contemporary fiction's most acclaimed and important writers, Russell Banks's Continental Drift is a masterful novel of hope lost and gained, and a gripping, indelible story of fragile lives uprooted and transformed by injustice, disappointment, and the seductions and realities of the American dream.
Set in Liberia and the United States from 1975 through 1991, The Darling is the story of Hannah Musgrave, a political radical and member of the Weather Underground. Hannah flees America for West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends of the notorious warlord and ex-president, Charles Taylor. Hannah's encounter with Taylor ultimately triggers a series of events whose momentum catches Hannah's family in its grip and forces her to make a heartrending choice.
With America ever under global scrutiny, Russell Banks contemplates the questions of our origins, values, heroes, conflicts, and contradictions. He writes with conversational ease and emotional insight, drawing on contemporary politics, literature, film, and his knowledge of American history.
In Family Life, Russell Banks's first novel, he transforms the dramas of domesticity into the story of a royal family in a mythical contemporary kingdom. Life inside this kingdom includes the king (dubbed "the Hearty" or "the Bluff"), who squeals angrily as is his wont; the queen, who, while pondering the mirror in her chambers, decides to write a book; three adolescent princes who are, respectively, a superb wrestler, a fanatical sports car driver, and a sullen drunk. Then there are the mysterious Green Man with a thing for princes; the Loon, who lives in a tree house designed by Christopher Wren; and a whole slew of murders, mayhem, coups, debauches, world tours, and love and loss and laughter.
Hamilton Stark is a New Hampshire pipe fitter and the sole inhabitant of the house from which he evicted his own mother. He is the villain of five marriages and the father of a daughter so obsessed that she has been writing a book about him for years. Hamilton Stark is a boor, a misanthrope, a handsome man: funny, passionately honest, and a good dancer. The narrator, a middle-aged writer, decides to write about Stark as a hero whose anger and solitude represent passion and wisdom. At the same time that he tells Hamilton Stark's story, he describes the process of writing the novel and the complicated connections between truth and fiction. As Stark slips in and out of focus, maddeningly elusive and fascinatingly complex, this beguiling novel becomes at once a compelling meditation on identity and a thoroughly engaging story of life on the cold edge of New England.
The acclaimed author of The Sweet Hereafter and Rule of the Bone returns with a provocative new novel that illuminates the shadowed edges of contemporary American culture with startling and unforgettable results. Suspended in a strangely modern-day version of limbo, the young man at the center of Russell Banks's uncompromising and morally complex new novel must create a life for himself in the wake of incarceration. Known in his new identity only as the Kid, and on probation after doing time for a liaison with an underage girl, he is shackled to a GPS monitoring device and forbidden to live within 2,500 feet of anywhere children might gather. With nowhere else to go, the Kid takes up residence under a south Florida causeway, in a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders. Barely beyond childhood himself, the Kid, despite his crime, is in many ways an innocent, trapped by impulses and foolish choices he himself struggles to comprehend. Enter the Professor, a man who has built his own life on secrets and lies. A university sociologist of enormous size and intellect, he finds in the Kid the perfect subject for his research on homelessness and recidivism among convicted sex offenders. The two men forge a tentative partnership, the Kid remaining wary of the Professor's motives even as he accepts the counsel and financial assistance of the older man. When the camp beneath the causeway is raided by the police, and later, when a hurricane all but destroys the settlement, the Professor tries to help the Kid in practical matters while trying to teach his young charge new ways of looking at, and understanding, what he has done. But when the Professor's past resurfaces and threatens to destroy his carefully constructed world, the balance in the two men's relationship shifts. Suddenly, the Kid must reconsider everything he has come to believe, and choose what course of action to take when faced with a new kind of moral decision. Long one of our most acute and insightful novelists, Russell Banks often examines the indistinct boundaries between our intentions and actions. A mature and masterful work of contemporary fiction from one of our most accomplished storytellers, Lost Memory of Skin unfolds in language both powerful and beautifully lyrical, show-casing Banks at his most compelling, his reckless sense of humor and intense empathy at full bore. The perfect convergence of writer and subject, Lost Memory of Skin probes the zeitgeist of a troubled society where zero tolerance has erased any hope of subtlety and compassion-a society where isolating the offender has perhaps created a new kind of victim.
An Omnibus Edition of Three Classic Early Novels from the Critically Acclaimed Author of Cloudsplitter and AfflictionFamily Life: Russell Banks's first novel is an adult fairy tale of a royal family in a mythical contemporary kingdom where the myriad dramas of domesticity blend with an outrageous slew of murders, mayhem, coups, debauches, world tours, and love in all guises, transcendent or otherwise.Hamilton Stark: This tale of a solitary, boorish, misanthropic New Hampshire pipe fitter--the sole inhabitant of the house from which he evicted his own mother--is at once a compelling meditation on identity and a thoroughly engaging story of life on the cold edge of New England.The Relation of My Imprisonment: Utilizing a form invented by imprisoned seventeenth-century Puritan divines--an utterly sincere and detailed, if highly artificial, recounting of great suffering--Banks's novel is a remarkably inventive, lovingly good-humored argument, exploration, and map of the caged religious mind.
A masterly collection of new stories from Russell Banks, acclaimed author of The Sweet Hereafter and Rule of the Bone, which maps the complex terrain of the modern American familyThe New York Times lauds Russell Banks as "the most compassionate fiction writer working today" and hails him as a novelist who delivers "wrenching, panoramic visions of American moral life. " Long celebrated for his unflinching, empathetic works that explore the unspoken but hard realities of contemporary culture, Banks now turns his keen intelligence and emotional acuity on perhaps his most complex subject yet: the shape of family in its many forms. Suffused with Banks's trademark lyricism and reckless humor, the twelve stories in A Permanent Member of the Family examine the myriad ways we try--and sometimes fail--to connect with one another, as we seek a home in the world. In the title story, a father looks back on the legend of the cherished family dog whose divided loyalties mirrored the fragmenting of his marriage. In "Christmas Party," a young man entertains dark thoughts as he watches his newly remarried ex-wife leading the life he once imagined they would share. "A Former Marine" asks, to chilling effect, if one can ever stop being a parent. And in the haunting, evocative "Veronica," a mysterious woman searching for her missing daughter may not be who she claims she is. Moving between the stark beauty of winter in upstate New York and the seductive heat of Florida, A Permanent Member of the Family charts with subtlety and precision the ebb and flow of both the families we make for ourselves and the ones we're born into, as it asks how we know the ones we love and, in turn, ourselves. One of our most acute and penetrating authors, Banks's virtuosic writing animates stories that are profoundly humane, deeply--and darkly--funny, and absolutely unforgettable. Russell Banks is one of America's most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.
The Relation of My Imprisonment is a work of fiction utilizing a form invented in the seventeenth century by imprisoned Puritan divines. Designed to be exemplary, works of this type were aimed at brethren outside the prison walls and functioned primarily as figurative dramatization of the test of faith all true believers must endure. These "relation," framed by scripture and by a sermon explicating the text, were usually read aloud in weekly or monthly installments during religious services. Utterly sincere and detailed recounting of suffering, they were nonetheless highly artificial. To use the form self-consciously, as Russell Banks has done, is not to parody it so much as to argue good-humoredly with the mind it embodies, to explore and, if possible, to map the limits of that mind, the more intelligently to love it.
In this compelling novel - a cross between Lady Chatterley's Lover and The Aviator - the acclaimed modern master takes us to riveting new territory.Part love story, part murder mystery, Russell Banks's The Reserve is as gripping as it is beautifully written, set in a pre-WWII world of class, politics, art, love and madness.Vanessa Cole is a stunningly beautiful and wild heiress, her parents' adopted only daughter. Twice-married, she has been scandalously linked to rich and famous men. On the night of July 4, 1936, inside the Cole family's remote Adirondack Mountain enclave, known as the Reserve, Vanessa will lose her father to a heart attack - and meet Jordan Groves, a seductively carefree local artist whose leftist political loyalties to his working class neighbours are undercut by his wealth and his clientele. Jordan is easy prey for Vanessa's electrifying charm. But the heiress carries a dark family secret. Unhinged by her father's unexpected death, she begins to spin out of control, manipulating and destroying the lives of all who cross her path.Moving from the secluded beauty of the Adirondacks to war-torn Spain and fascist Germany, filled with characters that pierce the heart, The Reserve is a passionately romantic novel of suspense and drama that adds a new dimension to this acclaimed author's extraordinary repertoire.From the Hardcover edition.
When we first meet him, Chappie is a punked-out teenager living with his mother and abusive stepfather in an upstate New York trailer park. During this time, he slips into drugs and petty crime. Rejected by his parents, out of school and in trouble with the police, he claims for himself a new identity as a permanent outsider; he gets a crossed-bones tattoo on his arm, and takes the name "Bone." He finds dangerous refuge with a group of biker-thieves, and then hides in the boarded-up summer house of a professor and his wife. He finally settles in an abandoned schoolbus with Rose, a child he rescues from a fast-talking pedophile. There Bone meets I-Man, an exiled Rastafarian, and together they begin a second adventure that takes the reader from Middle America to the ganja-growing mountains of Jamaica. It is an amazing journey of self-discovery through a world of magic, violence, betrayal and redemption.
In Sucess Stories, an exceptionally varied yet coherent collection, Russell Banks proves himself one of the most astute and forceful writers in America today. Queen for a Day, Success Story, and Adultery trace fortunes of the Painter family in there pursuit of and retreat from the American dream. Banks also explores the ethos of rampant materialism in a group of contemporary moral fables. The Fish is an evocating parable of faith and greed set in a Southeast Asian village, The Gully tells of the profitability of violence and the ironies of upward mobility in a Latin American shantytown, and Chrildren's Story explores the repressed rage that boils beneath the surface of relationships between parents and children and between citizens of the first and third worlds.
In The Sweet Hereafter, Russell Banks tells a story that begins with a school bus accident. Using four different narrators, Banks creates a small-town morality play that addresses one of life's most agonizing questions: when the worst thing happens, who do you blame?
Get to know the colorful cast of characters at the Granite State Trailerpark, where Flora in number 11 keeps more than a hundred guinea pigs andscreams at people to stay away from her babies, Claudel in number 5 thinks he is lucky until his wife burns down their trailer and runs off with Howie Leeke, and Noni in number 7 has telephone conversations with Jesus and tells the police about them. In this series of related short stories, Russell Banks offers gripping, realistic portrayals of individual Americans and paints a portrait of New England life that is at once dark, witty, and revealing.
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