The Darling

The Darling

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

“After many years of believing that I never dream of anything, I dreamed of Africa.”Over a decade after leaving her three sons behind in Liberia, Hannah Musgrave realizes she has to leave her farm in the Adirondacks and find out what has happened to them and the chimpanzees for whom she created a sanctuary. The Darling is the story of her return to the wreckage of west Africa and the story of her past, from her middle-class American upbringing to her years in the Weather Underground. It is also one of the most powerful novels of the decade, an unforgettable tale of growth and loss, and an unstinting exploration of some of the most troubling issues of our time: terrorism, race, and the contact between the first world and the third.Hannah Musgrave, the narrator of The Darling, tells us she first travelled to Africa in the mid-1970s, to escape prosecution for her radical political activities with the Weathermen. Arriving in Liberia to work in a medical research lab, Hannah – also known by her alias, Dawn Carrington – meets Woodrow Sundiata, an official in the ministry of public health, and they fall immediately in love. Courting with Woodrow, an intelligent, ambitious man, means encountering his other life in his ancestral village of Fuama – a life that could scarcely be more different from Hannah’s affluent childhood as the daughter of a bestselling pediatrician. Hannah and Woodrow start a family, but she feels herself to be somehow estranged from her life in Liberia and curiously detached from her husband and three sons. Still in search of herself as her children grow older, Hannah develops a closer and closer bond with the chimpanzees at the lab, whom she calls “dreamers.”During the early 1980s, Liberian society grows more unstable, until an illiterate soldier named Samuel Doe brutally overthrows and assassinates the president. Hannah’s courageous intervention with Doe leads to Woodrow’s release from detention, but at a price: she must return to the US, leaving her family behind. Hannah feels that her dreamers will feel her absence more deeply than her family will.In the US Hannah briefly reconnects with her parents after years of estrangement before returning to her friends from her underground years. One of them, Zack Procter, is involved with a plan to spring Charles Taylor – an attractive Liberian politician – from jail, and Hannah involves herself with the plot, genuinely believing that Taylor will bring social democracy to west Africa.Hannah gets permission to return to her family in the mid-1980s, and decides that this time things will be different: she will take charge of her home life, ousting Woodrow’s young cousin Jeanette, and she will build a sanctuary for her chimpanzees. But Charles Taylor has also returned, and his slow and bloody rebellion against Doe leads, eventually, to a night of horrific violence in which Woodrow is murdered and Hannah’s teenaged children disappear. Amidst chaos and almost unbelievable bloodshed, Hannah has time only to move her dreamers to Boniface Island before facing the heartrending decision to escape Liberia, leaving her children behind. More than ten years will pass before she can return to discover their fate, and understand her own.From the Hardcover edition.
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A Permanent Member of the Family

A Permanent Member of the Family

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

RetailA 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.**
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Continental Drift

Continental Drift

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

From Publishers WeeklyOn the extravagant, shallow promises of his brother, Bob Dubois, 30, a burnt-out New Hampshire oil burner repairman, takes his family to Florida. There the Duboises meet their destiny in the form of a counterpoint familythat of Vanise Dorsinville, a woman who has fled Haiti with her infant and nephew for a better life in the U.S. PW praised Continental Drift as a "vital, compelling novel." Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. Review"An excellent novel...An important novel because of the precise manner in which it reflects the spiritual yearning and materialistic frenzy of our contemporary life. It is also an extremely skillful book, both in its writing, which is impeccable, and in the way it unfolds...Always, Banks writes with tremendous knowledge, convictions, and authenticity." -- Chicago Tribune"At its deepest level, Continental Drift is about a culture imagining itself. Black, white, New World, Old World, living and dead, animal and mineral, a startling array of voices perform this act of creation. Banks has captured the din, clamor, and chaos of these voices clearly and convincingly." -- John Edgar Wideman"Grandeur...Tremendously ambitious...A powerful, disturbing study in moral 'drift,' confusion, and uncertainty." -- San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle"Russell Banks is a writer of extraordinary power." -- Gail Caldwell,Boston Globe"Russell Banks...explores the themes of good and evil, fate and freedom, success and failure, love and sex, and racism and poverty through alternating chapters focusing of dual protagonists: Bob Dubois, 30, who forsakes his dead-end job as an oil burner repairman in New Hampshire to begin a new life in Florida, and Vanise Dorsinville, a young, illiterate Haitian mother who seeks refuge from poverty by fleeing to America...Original in conception, gripping in execution." -- Newsday"Unrelenting...A vigorous and original novel." -- New York Review of BooksEarly in Continental Drift, Russell Banks compares the migrations of humanity to those of the elements: tides, winds, whole landmasses making their well-mapped, decorous circuit of the planet. One of the marvels of this book is the way it combines such an aerial perspective with particular, earthbound lives. Seen from ground level--the vantage point of most lives--this perpetual exodus has little of the bland and unimpeachable brutality of natural disaster. Instead, it can look heroic--a dogged determination to cheat entropy and death for as long as possible. This persistence, "an old-fashioned, biblical kind of heroism," powers the migratory lives in Continental Drift and makes even their eventual wreckage a source of celebration. -- The Nation, James Marcus
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Lost Memory of Skin

Lost Memory of Skin

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

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 resultsSuspended 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...
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Hamilton Stark

Hamilton Stark

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

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.
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Cloudsplitter

Cloudsplitter

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

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.Amazon.com ReviewThe cover of Russell Banks's mountain-sized novel Cloudsplitter features an actual photo of Owen Brown, the son of John Brown--the hero of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" whose terrorist band murdered proponents of slavery in Kansas and attacked Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859 on what he considered direct orders from God, helping spark the Civil War. A deeply researched but fictionalized Owen narrates this remarkably realistic and ambitious novel by the already distinguished author of The Sweet Hereafter. Owen is an atheist, but he is as haunted and dominated by his father, John Brown, as John was haunted by an angry God who demanded human sacrifice to stop the abomination of slavery. Cloudsplitter takes you along on John Brown's journey--as period-perfect as that of the Civil War deserter in Cold Mountain--from Brown's cabin facing the great Adirondack mountain (called "the Cloudsplitter" by the Indians) amid an abolitionist settlement the blacks there call "Timbuctoo," to the various perilous stops of the Underground Railroad spiriting slaves out of the South, and finally to the killings in Bloody Kansas and the Harpers Ferry revolt. We meet some great names--Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and a (fictional) lover of Nathaniel Hawthorne--but the vast book keeps a tight focus on the aged Owen's obsessive recollections of his pa's crusade and the emotional shackles John clamped on his own family. Banks, a white author, has tackled the topic of race as impressively as Toni Morrison in novels such as Continental Drift. What makes Cloudsplitter a departure for him is its style and scope. He is noted as an exceptionally thorough chronicler of America today in rigorously detailed realist fiction (he championed Snow Falling on Cedars). Banks spent half a decade researching Cloudsplitter, and he renounces the conventional magic of his poetical prose style for a voice steeped in the King James Bible and the stately cadences of 19th-century political rhetoric. The tone is closer to Ken Burns's tragic, elegiac The Civil War than to the recent crazy-quilt modernist novel about John Brown, Raising Holy Hell. A fan of Banks's more cut-to-the-chase, Hollywood-hot modern style may get impatient, but such readers can turn to, say, Gore Vidal's recently reissued Lincoln, which peeks into the Great Emancipator's head with a modern's cynical wit. Banks's narrator is poetical and witty at times--Owen notes, "The outrage felt by whites [over slavery] was mostly spent on stoking their own righteousness and warming themselves before its fire." Yet in the main, Banks writes in the "elaborately plainspoken" manner of the Browns, restricting himself to a sober style dictated by the historical subject. Besides, John Brown's head resembles the stone tablets of Moses. You do not penetrate him, and you can't declare him mad or sane, good or evil. You read, struggling to locate the words emanating from some strange place between history, heaven, and hell. From Library JournalAt first glance, aside from the setting, this massive novelized life of Abolitionist John Brown, told from the viewpoint of one of his sons, has nothing in common with Banks's book of outlaw excess, Rule of the Bone (HarperCollins, 1995). Yet both deal with single-mindedness, rebellion, and codes?except that Brown's versions of these are more honorable (he would have agreed with Dylan that "to live outside the law you must be honest"). This book has all the stark beauty of the Adirondacks setting and of Brown's religion, and the elderly, reclusive narrator's coming to terms with himself and his father is an achievement in its own right. Besides, like the works of Thomas Mallon and Thomas Gifford, this is not just a fine novel (and a wonderfully structured one at that) but a way to participate in history. Recommended, without hyperbole, for all collections.-?Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Oswego, N.Y.Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The Angel on the Roof

The Angel on the Roof

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

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.
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Relation of My Imprisonment

Relation of My Imprisonment

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

The Relation of My Imprisonment 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 fait 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.Review"This is a marvelously written little book, fascinatingly intricate, yet deceptively simple. Well worth reading more than once." -- --New York Times Book ReviewAbout the AuthorRussell 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.
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Trailerpark

Trailerpark

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

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.Review"Mesmerizing .... There are times when Banks's prose fairly dazzles." -- -- Publishers WeeklyAbout the AuthorRussell Banks was raised in New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts.The eldest of four children, he grew up in a working-class environment, which has played a major role in his writing.Mr. Banks (who was the first in his family to go to college) attended Colgate University for less than a semester, and later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Before he could support himself as a writer, he tried his hand at plumbing, and as a shoe salesman and window trimmer.More recently, he has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence, University of New Hampshire, New England College, New York University and Princeton University.A prolific writer of fiction, his titles include Searching for Survivors, Family Life, Hamilton Stark, The New World, The Book of Jamaica, Trailerpark, The Relation of My Imprisonment, Continental Drift, Success Stories, Affliction, The Sweet Hereafter, Rule of the Bone, and Cloudsplitter.He has also contributed poems, stories and essays to The Boston Globe Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Harper's, and many other publications.His works have been widely translated and published in Europe and Asia.Two of his novels have been adapted for feature-length films, The Sweet Hereafter (directed by Atom Goyan, winner of the Grand Prix and International Critics Prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival) and Affliction (directed by Paul Schrader, starring Nick Nolte, Willem Dafoe, Sissy Spacek, and James Coburn). He is the screenwriter of a film adaptation of Continental Drift. Mr. Banks has won numerous awards and prizes for his work, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, Ingram Merrill Award, The St. Lawrence Award for Short Fiction, O. Henry and Best American Short Story Award, The John Dos Passos Award, and the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and 1998 respectively.Affliction was short listed for both the PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize and the Irish International Prize.He has lived in a variety of places, from New England to Jamaica, which have contributed to the richness of his writing. He is currently living in upstate New York.The Angel On The Roof is his first collection of short stories in fifteen years.Russell Banks is married to the poet Chase Twichell, and is the father of four grown daughters.
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Rule of the Bone

Rule of the Bone

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

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.
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Voyager

Voyager

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

The acclaimed, award-winning novelist takes us on some of his most memorable journeys in this revelatory collection of travel essays that spans the globe, from the Caribbean to Scotland to the HimalayasNow in his mid-seventies, Russell Banks has indulged his wanderlust for more than half a century. In this compelling anthology, he writes that since childhood he has "longed for escape, for rejuvenation, for wealth untold, for erotic and narcotic and sybaritic fresh starts, for high romance, mystery, and intrigue." The longing for escape has taken him from the "bright green islands and turquoise seas" of the Caribbean islands to peaks in the Himalayas, the Andes, and beyond. In Voyager, Russell Banks, a lifelong explorer, shares highlights from his travels: interviewing Fidel Castro in Cuba; motoring to a hippie reunion with college friends in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; eloping to Edinburgh to marry his fourth wife, Chase; driving a sunset-orange metallic Hummer...
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Outer Banks

Outer Banks

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

An Omnibus Edition of Three Classic Early Novels from the Critically Acclaimed Author of Cloudsplitter and Affliction Family 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.
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The Reserve

The Reserve

Russell Banks

Literature & Fiction / Nonfiction

Part love story, part murder mystery, set on the cusp of the Second World War, Russell Banks' sharp-witted and deeply engaging new novel raises dangerous questions about class, politics, art, love, and madness-and explores what happens when two powerful personalities begin to break the rules. 29-year-old Vanessa Cole is a wild, stunningly beautiful heiress, scandalously linked to any number of rich and famous men. But at her parents' country home in a remote Adirondack Mountain enclave known as The Reserve, two events coincide to permanently alter the course of Vanessa's callow life: her father dies suddenly of a heart attack, and a mysteriously seductive local artist, Jordan Groves, lands his biplane in the forbidden Upper Lake... Internationally known as much for his exploits and conquests as for his paintings themselves, Jordan's leftist loyalties seem suspiciously undercut by his wealth and upper-crust clientele. But for all his worldly swagger, Jordon is as staggered by Vanessa's beauty and charm as she is by his defiant independence. He falls easy prey to her electrifying personality, but it is not long before he discovers that the heiress carries a dark, deeply scarring family secret. Emotionally unstable from the start, and further unhinged by her father's unexpected death, Vanessa begins to spin wildly out of control, manipulating and destroying the lives of all who cross her path. The Reserve is a clever, incisive, and passionately romantic novel of suspense that adds a new dimension to this acclaimed author's extraordinary repertoire.
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