Sunday, October 9, 2011

Russell Banks

Russell Banks's new novel is Lost Memory of Skin.

From his Q & A with David Ulin at the Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy blog:

Jacket Copy: "Lost Memory of Skin" is a realistic novel, but it also plays with archetypes. None of the characters are named but rather go by more general designations: the Kid, the Professor. In some sense, even they don't know who they really are.

Russell Banks: I was trying to use the conventions of realism to tell the story but also to lift it off the page and make it a bit more universal and archetypal. Once I got going with the Kid and the Professor, I just felt this was going to work, that I could do this all the way through. It's the same reason I didn't call the city Miami, even though it clearly is Miami -- if I call it Miami, then I'm stuck in a level of social realism that I don't want to get held down by. Even though I love the conventions of realism and the tradition of it, I don't want to be limited by that. But on the other hand, I don't want to write something hyper-real or surreal or meta-real, or anything of that sort, which takes off from the page and never gets grounded in reality again. So I wanted it to hover somewhere in between the two, and tell a story that would have the flavor of a fable and the feel of a fable, and yet be rooted in our everyday, mundane reality. That was one reason why I never gave him a name. Once I had gotten 50, 100 pages in, and he still was called the Kid, I was quite comfortable with it, and that meant everybody else was going to be treated more or less the same way. It's funny the way names do that. Pretty soon, the person becomes the name. And by the time you get very far into it, it would be shocking any other way. So he is the Kid.

JC: It also allows you to play with the fabric of reality a little bit. There's that scene late in the novel when the Professor is driving in the eye of the hurricane for hours and hours.

RB: And the babes on blade...[read on]
Read about Russell Banks's most important books.

--Marshal Zeringue