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We experience the story from inside the heads of the four characters in turn--each knowing things the others don't, each misunderstanding the facts in his or her own way. The method resembles Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Gilbert Sorrentino's stunning Aberration of Starlight, but Banks's achievement is most comparable to John Updike's tales of ordinary small-towners preternaturally gifted with slangy eloquence, psychological insights, and alertness to life's tiniest details.
Egoyan's film is haunting but vague--it leaves viewers in the dark regarding several critical plot points. Banks's book is more haunting still, and precise, making every revelation count, with a finale far superior to that of the film. It's also wittier than the too-sober flick: the lawyer dismisses the dome-dwelling hippie parents of one of the crash victims as being "lost in their Zen Little Indians fantasy," which casts a sharp light on them and him, too. He's lost in his calculations of how each parent will fit into the legal system, and the ways in which he fits into the tragedy are lost on him. If only he and the Vietnam-vet dad could read each other's account of their tense first encounter, both of them might get what the other is missing.
Banks's wit is pitiless--it's painful when we discover that the bus driver, who prides herself on interpreting for her stroke-impaired husband, is translating his wise but garbled observations all wrong. The crash turns out not to be the ultimate tragedy: in the cold northern light of its aftermath, we discover that we're all in this alone.
I read this book after I had read his recent one : A Permanent Member of the Family. The new one is a collection of short stories, all very absorbing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jag G.
A story with rich character development through first-person telling of their lives after a terrible accident. Read morePublished 4 months ago by cindy armijo
I hate to admit it, but I watched the film long before I read the book. The film, while beautiful and good in its own way, was a little disjointed and confusing to me. Read morePublished 5 months ago by M's Angel
Fascinating book. Shorter than most Russell Banks books, but the message is clear at the end that none of us is totally innocent!Published 5 months ago by Bonita Bryant
Telling a compelling story through the eyes of four or five characters reveals a lot about the people of an upstate New York town as they experience a tragedy of uncommon scope. Read morePublished 6 months ago by BurghMan
I found this book disturbing, but so enlightening. Like many other people, I have my own point of view and strong feelings about various issues. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Quilting Nonny
This book was well written and I enjoyed it. However, be prepared for many loose ends and unhappiness. Read morePublished 7 months ago by nkelly
a book interwoven so perfectly you feel sad when one of the threads ends. I wanted to know more about the lawyers crazy daughter, alas we have moved on to a juicier part of the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by T. Schneider