Banks, Russell

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell BanksLost Memory of Skin (2011)
BookList: /* Starred Review */ Banks is in top form in his seventeenth work of fiction, a cyclonic novel of arresting observations, muscular beauty, and disquieting concerns. An unloved runt of 22, the Kid thinks he might be “slightly retarded,” but his narrational voice evinces a smart, sensitive, and witty, if dangerously uneducated, mind. With only a pet iguana for a friend, the Kid became addicted to online pornography, which leads to his becoming a virginal convicted sex offender on parole, camping out beneath a causeway at the water’s edge in a city much like Miami. The Kid joins a veritable leper colony of sex offenders rendered homeless due to a law forbidding them to live within 2,500 feet of any place children may gather. Enter the Professor, a sociologist whose gargantuan mental powers are matched by his astonishing bulk. Humongous, arrogant, generous, brash, and secretive, the Professor, a character of startling and magnetic originality, latches onto the Kid first as a case study, then as an ally, until things go catastrophically wrong. Banks dramatically contrasts the soulless cybersexual carnival with the thorny complexity of flesh-and-blood encounters and our inner lives, the fecund wildness of a vast primeval swamp, and the fury of a hurricane to create a commanding, intrepidly inquisitive, magnificently compassionate, and darkly funny novel of private and societal illusions, maladies, and truths. -- Seaman, Donna (Reviewed 06-01-2011) (Booklist, vol 107, number 19, p36)


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