5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Lost Memory of Skin (Paperback)
We are living in the Golden Age of novel-writing in English (which perhaps compensates for it being the Worst Age of English-language poetry). Most of the wonderful books now published are from Old England, but this American book is the best I have read in years.
It's 'Huckeberry Finn' wonderfully and accurately updated, with more than a nod to the almost-forgotten, beautiful Steinbeck of 'Tortilla Flat', 'Cannery Row', etc. The Professor in Banks' book is not quite Doc Ricketts, but there is more than a slight resemblance.
Twain + Steinbeck - plus Dostoyevsky. What greater praise could an American author receive ?
Despite the grudging reviews by the hacks, make no mistake: this book could change your life, because it tackles problems about the basis of modern American culture - the culture of 'aspiration', class, gain, greed, punishment and vengeance - and the reality which is the USA in general, and Miami in particular.
I identified with The Kid (not to mention the dog and parrot). I largely identified with The Professor. I sort-of identified with The Writer. I totally identified with this author - who is one of the most compassionate, perceptive, profound and - indeed - self-effacing writers I have come across.
Russell Banks in this book confronts the reality of America's pornographic and prudish society, a society even more hypocritical than that of England. America's largest export is pornography. Its largest lobby-group is the Christian Right - who have managed to make just about everyone in that country afraid of them. Put the two together and you have the reality of the Great American Dream, which has turned millions of people's lives to nightmare - not just in the USA but in every country tainted by American Values.
This is a book against Political Correctness (an Americanism for 'hateful and self-justifying hypocrisy'). It is a book about self-conscious and unselfconscious love. It is beautifully written.
I dare the politically-correct and politically-motivated Nobel Literature committee to endorse Mr Banks as he deserves.
This was the first RB book I have read. (Thanks to the BBC !) I shall read everything he has written.