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The Reserve: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – February 10, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061430269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061430268
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tom Stechschulte's voice is well suited to this novel's myriad layers of time and interlocking characters. Although superficially different-genteel versus rebellious, calm versus wild-the central figures all have an old-fashioned depth. Set in the mid-1930s amid mounting concerns over war, numerous characters have Germanic accents, which Stechschulte reproduces adeptly. He shifts easily from the backwoods drawl of the people who live surrounding the exclusive reserve in the Adirondacks to the haughty upper-class tones of the wealthy who stay there. Similarly, he captures the broad, confident tones of Jordan Groves, the prickly artist who fits neither group, but then moves his voice fluidly to that of the enigmatic heiress, Vanessa Cole, who catches Groves's eye. Stechschulte gives Vanessa's words the right husky, even sultry quality, but more importantly he perfectly expresses her rapidly shifting emotions of inner turmoil and borderline madness. Simultaneous release with the Harper hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 26).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Though Pulitzer Prizeâ€"winning Russell Banks made his name writing about the down-and-out, blue-collar side of Adirondack society (The Sweet Hereafter, Cloudsplitter), The Reserve represents a rare foray into chronicling the lifestyles of the rich and morally depraved. Inspiration for the novel’s many plot twists and turns (and even more twisted characters) reportedly came from sources as varied as the life of flamboyant leftist artist Rockwell Kent to rumors about Ernest Hemingway’s troubled affair with a gorgeous but unstable mistress. Unfortunately, the New York Times expressed a majority opinion when it stated that the many threads of the story just didn’t coalesce, resulting in a mere “potboiler” with “silly and stereotype[d]” charactersâ€"a world away from Banks’s best work.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --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

Fans of Russell Banks will be disappointed with The Reserve.
Richard S. Hunter
I found the characters ridiculously clichéd and the story with its oh-so-convenient plot points very amateurish.
Tracy L.
Some solid description of the beauties of the area but that's it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've never read Russell Banks before, so I wasn't sure what to expect of THE RESERVE. The dust jacket copy and cover art reeled me in, so I bought it. This is apparently his homage to the American literary giants of yesteryear, notably Hemingway and Fitzgerald, with a distinctly modern point of view. It is certainly well-written, and the soapy plot is lively, and the contrast between the very rich and the working class at the height of the Depression is well-drawn. The two principal male characters are another study in contrasts, and they're interesting men. But the woman at the center of the story, the fabulously beautiful Vanessa Cole...well, much of your enjoyment of THE RESERVE will depend on your tolerance for her, and she is truly irritating, a charmless variation on any number of Hemingway and Fitzgerald characters. Still, the evocation of time and place is vivid, and there's a swoony romanticism to it all that's fun to read. Now I think I'll try some of his other, less derivative works.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Crystal Clear on August 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
..........that the man who wrote Affliction, The Sweet Hereafter, and Continental Drift also wrote The Reserve. Into the second chapter, I had to double check that there weren't two authors named Russell Banks. The story is just plain odd - the characters have no depth, no nuance and their actions ring false (an understatement.) I was reminded of Fountainhead (I noticed another reviewer mention Ayn Rand, so I am not necessarily losing my mind)only without the philosophical underpinnings. Any.

I, too, skimmed, which I only do when the author has totally failed to engage me, but I want to give some benefit of the doubt without a huge time investment. By the end, I suspected I'd lost absolutely nothing. There is no THERE there.

I have been a Banks fan for twenty years and all I can say is, I am baffled.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Russell Banks' latest novel THE RESERVE, set in the Adirondacks in the second half of the 1930's, opens with a beautiful description of a beautiful woman, Vanessa Cole, the twenty-nine-year-old adopted daughter of a rich New York brain surgeon, Dr. Carter Cole, who is credited with the invention of the lobotomy, and his socialite wife Evelyn. Several times married, a participant in many affairs-- she is rumored to have slept with Ernest Hemingway-- impulsive, selfish, Vanessa seems on the surface to be a spoiled rich girl as her life intertwines with three other central characters. Jordan Groves is a handsome man's man, an artist-- whom I believe Mr. Banks said he may have modeled in part after Rockwell Kent-- also a pilot, with leftist political leanings and a womanizer and adulterer although he only sleeps with women one time and lets them seduce him; hence, he has no guilt. Jordan is married to Alicia, his long-suffering and pretty wife and the mother of his two sons, whom he has insisted on naming after animals he likes, Bear and Wolf. Finally, Hubert St. Germain is a competent, muscular guide for the rich summer vacationers, in his 30's, one of the locals-- he voted for Herbert Hoover-- who lives alone in a cabin, having lost his wife in an accident. These four characters find themselves in a quagmire that they have gotten themselves into by their own actions.

In prose as transparent as the Adirondack lake Jordan Groves sets his biplane down in, Mr. Russell creates a story in the noir tradition that in the hands of a lesser skilled writer would have been a potboiler. The plot has some unexpected twists and turns although some of the things that happen to these characters ultimately are unavoidable.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Fiction Fan on March 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've read everything by this prolific and profound master of written language and I have difficulty understanding how or why he wrote this book. Neither the characters or the plot is compelling- I found myself skimming the book towards the end. I just hope that you try any one of Russell Banks other books. They are ALL better than this one.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Emmett Hoops on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
Wow, is this book a poor introduction to Russell Banks. I've never read anything by him before, though I tried in vain several times to borrow Cloudsplitter from my local library (it was always out on loan.) I had heard that Banks was a master novelist, a major literary figure of our time, in the same pantheon as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Well, if Hemingway had written scripts for Ed Wood and Fitzgerald for Carmen Miranda, I could believe that to be so.

This book is so trite, the dialogue so stilted, and the adjectives at once incredibly numerous and entirely predictable, that the result is a feeling not unlike eating three Big Macs. The main characters are cut from stock: a ca-raaaazy socialite whose mama and papa are filthy rich; a predictably handsome, womanizing, left-leaning, "square-handed and broad-shouldered" artist who flies biplanes for fun; and a backwoodsman who's as honest as he is stupid. Oh, and he's handsome, too, and virile as all get out. If this sounds like the makings of a good novel, then push aside the Harlequin Romances and buy this book. In fact, some readers like a predictable, trite book now and then, and I don't deny I occasionally pick up old books by unknown authors just to see what amused people 100 years ago. If you're looking for the modern equivalent, in literary merit, of Trail of the Lonesome Pine, this might be your book. If, however, you expect more from a writer with the reputation of Banks, skip this.
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