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Continental Drift (P.S.) Paperback – March 13, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060854944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060854942
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A great American novel...a lesson in history...It is the most convincing portrait I know of contemporary America." -- --James Atlas, The Atlantic

"Grandeur...Tremendously ambitious...A powerful, disturbing study in moral 'drift', confusion, and uncertainty." -- --San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Russell Banks is the author of sixteen works of fiction, many of which depict seismic events in US history, such as the fictionalized journey of John Brown in Cloudsplitter. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes, and two of his novels-The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction-have been made into award-winning films. His forthcoming novel, The Reserve, will be published in early 2008. President of the International Parliament of Writers and former New York State Author, Banks lives in upstate New York.

Customer Reviews

Depressing theme throughout the book.
John H. Moyer
It had a strong plot and many good characters with whom I could easily relate to.
Petr Lynch
One of the greatest modern American novels ever.
"jnelson118"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Smith on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is Banks' finest novel.
Bob Dubois, is a powerful and well developed protagonist; a blue-collar worker in snowy New Hampshire who tries to escape the hopelessness of his dead-end existence and fizzling marriage by traveling south to Florida. But Bob loses control of his situation, and his predestined path is dictated by forces outside of his control, just as plate tectonics dictates the drift of our wayward continents.
Dubois is a beautifully written character. He's a moral man who tries to do the right thing, and in the end it's his morality that brings the tragedy to its conclusion. On the other side of this collision course are two Hatian immigrants with which Bob shares everything and nothing. Banks once again shows his knowledge of Caribbean cultures - a reoccurring theme in his novels.
Love, sex, desperation, hope, good vs. evil, racism, free-will versus destiny, these are all elements interwoven into a tightly written story. An excellent novel.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By RL on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Truly a great book of the past few decades. Continental Drift parallels the lives of two individuals co-existing in North America. The main character, Bob Dubois, is a mediciocre, who flees his drab life in New Hampshire for the riches of Florida. In the process, Banks comments on racism, sex and materialism. In contrast, is the tragic story of a young Haitian woman seeking the American dream. Bob Dubois is a ghost of man morally; adrift in a society that rewards greed, consumerism and de-emphasizes love and committment. The Haitian story reflects on poverty and the moral bankrupcy it extracts. Russell Banks is one of our best writers today. Don't miss this book.
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Julie Smedley on December 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
This was one of the best books I've ever read. I learned alot from this book,alot about my own life and the lives of the people around me.Russell Banks hits quite a few nerves in his depiction of the American Dream and all the trappings of our overly materialistic,shallow lives. Banks beautifully blends two seperate lives on a collision course with destiny.Human nature at its best and its worst.Everyone should be able to identify with the main character Bob Dubois, a tragic figure who doesnt know who he is or what he wants.Life just happens to him. On the other side is Vanise Dorsinville and her nephew Claude two poor Haitians who seek a new life in America.The misery they endure will haunt you.Banks' knowledge of the Haitian culture was phenominal.What a remarkable book!
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Haitianlover on May 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was suggested to me by a professor (Preston Allen, author of the fine novel Hoochie Mama), whose opinion I respect very much; and thus, I continued reading even when I felt overwhelmed with emotion and was ultimately rewarded with a story that is really two stories. Mr. Banks is perhaps the finest writer I have ever read, his prose refined to the point of being almost too self-conscious. He is a master at making the reader FEEL for his characters. So I followed the main character from the Northeast to Miami, as he fled his boring life and found himself in more trouble than he knew was possible. That first story, surface story, works because of rich writing and some semblance of plot. As a Haitian American, I had a serious problem with the second main story (especially because of Banks' fine style), Claude and Vanise's story. I wept. It was fiction, but I wept. I remembered how I came here as a small boy. I remembered what happened to my mother, but I won't go into that. And I was angry because Mr. Banks is not Haitian. I kept waiting for him to get it wrong--there were some stereotypical things, but they were minor. This is the story I kept wishing someone would write. Both Haitians and Cubans see Miami as a haven from poverty and political oppression in their countries, but America usually sees only the Cubans as deserving of refuge. I am still a bit bothered that Banks is not Haitian, but for selfish reasons I wish every American would read this book. I number it among my favorites of all time.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Schneider on June 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Russell Banks' CONTINENTAL DRIFT, published in 1985, is not an easy read and not a pretty one at that; however, it is a powerful, disturbing, thought-provoking look at the death of 'The American Dream' as experienced by two entirely different protagonists from entirely different worlds. We have married, philandering, blue-collar Bob DuBois, who is dissatisfied with his dull, boring, overly routine life in frigid New Hampshire who finally decides to take his seemingly happy and successful older brother's offer to come work for him in sunny, warm Florida. It becomes a a never-ending series of nightmares for him and his family---but mostly for him. At the same time, we have intelligent, unselfish, thoughtful but dirt-poor Haitian emigre Vanise Dorsinville, who decides to try and escape her seemingly hopeless homeland with her infant son and 13-year-old nephew Claude---and run into a series of nightmares of their own.
I have just reviewed the classic 1980's Tom Wolfe novel THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES, which is a hilariously scathing social commentary of The Greed Decade that follows four separate tracks, one for each protagonist, until they all come together in the second half of the book. CONTINENTAL DRIFT follows just two tracks; however, it is a much more difficult read that requires a lot more patience. It is not the compulsive page-turner that BONFIRE is. One reason is the decidedly dark tone of Banks' story; it is a lament, not a satire. Also, it is written in two distinctly different styles: it alternates between standard modern American prose, when following Bob's life, and an English-language version of Haitian prose which is rich with that island nation's odd mixture of French-derived Catholicism and African-originated voodoo.
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