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Dark,
Gloomy,
Confusing

2 reviews

Lost Memory of Skin: A Novel
by Russell Banks

Published: 2012-07-17
Paperback : 432 pages
7 members reading this now
3 clubs reading this now
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5 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 2 members
“Like our living literary giants Toni Morrison and Thomas Pynchon, Russell Banks is a great writer wrestling with the hidden secrets and explosive realities of this country.”—Cornel West“Of the many writers working in the great tradition today, one of the best is Russell Banks.”...
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Introduction

“Like our living literary giants Toni Morrison and Thomas Pynchon, Russell Banks is a great writer wrestling with the hidden secrets and explosive realities of this country.”
—Cornel West

“Of the many writers working in the great tradition today, one of the best is Russell Banks.”
New York Times

Lost Memory of Skin is a provocative novel of spiritual and moral redemption from Russell Banks, the author of Affliction, Rule of the Bone, Continental Drift, Cloudsplitter, and other acclaimed masterworks of contemporary American fiction.  Uncompromising and complex, Lost Memory of Skin is the story of The Kid, a young sex offender recently released from prison and forced to live beneath a South Florida causeway. When The Professor, a man of enormous intellect and appetite, takes The Kid under his wing, his own startling past will cause upheavals in both of their worlds. At once lyrical, witty, and disturbing, Banks’s extraordinary novel showcases his abilities as a world-class storyteller as well as his incisive understanding of the dangerous contradictions and hypocrisies of modern American society.

Editorial Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: In Lost Memory of Skin, Russell Banks plays peek-a-boo with the reader lifting each corner just enough to wonder at what may lie underneath. When we meet the Kid, he is grappling with his public status as a convicted sex offender, living under a Florida causeway with other men whom society finds â??both despicable and impossible to remove and thus by most people simply wished out of existence.â?? Enter the Professor, with his genius IQ and massive physical presence, eager to prove that men like the Kid have been shaped by social forces and are capable of change. The pair seem diametrically opposed yet share a â??profound sense of isolation, of difference and solitudeâ?¦,â?? held hostage by their secrets in this morally complex and thought-provoking story of illusions and blurry truths in a novel that that hums with electricity from beginning to end. --Seira Wilson

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

What are the laws in our state?
Do these people deserve compassion?
Was the Kid guilty as charged?
by prieskorn (see profile) 08/27/12

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

"Banks (The Reserve,2008, etc.) once again explores the plight of the dispossessed, taking a big risk this time by making his protagonist a convicted sex offender.

He hedges his bets slightly: The Kid is a 22-year-old who got jailed for showing up at a 14-year-old girl's house with condoms, K-Y jelly, porn and beer after some sexy Internet chat. But Banks makes it clear that there are plenty of actual child molesters and "baby bangers" camped out with the Kid under a Florida causeway—because they're prohibited from living 2,500 feet from any place children under 18 congregate, which is pretty much everywhere. It's less clear whether the author agrees with the Professor, a sociologist specializing in the causes of homelessness, that pedophilia is a response to feelings of powerlessness and a disease of the modern media world that sexualizes children in advertising. Ambiguity rules in Banks' knotty narrative of the Kid's odyssey after police break up the encampment under the causeway (it's an election year) and he loses his job as a busboy. Was the Professor really a government informer back in the 1960s? Are his former bosses trying to kill him, as he claims? Maybe, but it's hard to tell. And Banks doesn't make it easy to like the Kid, addicted to porn since he started watching it on the Internet at age 10 to blot out the sounds of his mother having sex with her various boyfriends, so isolated by his own wounds that other people don't seem very real to him. Though there's plenty of plot, including a hurricane and a dead body fished out of a canal, the slow growth of the Kid's self-knowledge and his empathy for others is the real story, offering the only ray of hope in an otherwise bleak consideration of a broken society and the damaged people it breeds.

Intelligent, passionate and powerful, but very stark indeed."--Kirkus Reviews

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "The Lost Memory of Skin"by phawkins (see profile) 11/29/12

 
  "Lost Memory Of Skin"by prieskorn (see profile) 08/27/12

This book challenges all your feelings. Part of me felt terrible for Kid, the main character. How can we condemn him to this horrible life for ten years? Whose fault is it he lives like th... (read more)

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