Fictional towns lumber road How about logging road This book is not as mediocre as Continental Drift but it s not that good either It has its merits particular the descriptions of west central New Hampshire s geography and small town culture 325 rounds down to 3 I realized that I had neglected to spend a few words on the purpose of the story which I assume is to examine the negative effect an abusive childhood can have on an adult life RB seems to imply that Wade was living under a psychic death sentence doomed to sadness and failure a chronic malfunctioning alcohol and violence addict Or something Point taken Our social world has a LOT of people like Wade mostly men when it comes to violent outcomes But there is hope for those who find it Hope in the form of useful practical therapy and especially in 12 recovery Wade should have hauled his ass to AA and Alanon But then I suppose there would ve been no novel What makes this story stand out is its narrator Younger brother to Wade the protagonist the narrator relates his sibling s story with keen precision And his account touches on family violence a potent topic Such a topic can be overdone in fifty ways and gotten right in perhaps only one Having a narrator mediate the risk provides just the right distance Russell Banks has an author s instinct for the best approach In the background too lies poverty Banks avoids the temptation to lay it on too thick or too thin He also avoids slamming undereducated people with giveaway argot and Faulkner like idiocy and instead supplies his story with believably sensible characters Measured prose and well balanced characterizations steer the narrative astutely around these several taboos That s all good But what really sets this book apart is the odd entanglement between the narrator and his brother Wade Readers are invited to puzzle ever closely over the ounger brother The plot details provoke uestions Who exactly is this narrator How does he know what he knows Readers who follow the clues will be surprisedWith evenness precision and a bizarre mystery Affliction delivers than I was expecting A clever engaging tale tinged with a palpable portrait of New England life makes this a book that belongs on the to read list of discerning readers This is my second Russell Banks and it will not be my last I read Lost Memory of Skin as my first and that encouraged me to move on to this one albeit many months later I have copies of Outer Banks Three Early Novels The Angel on the Roof Cloudsplitter and The Sweet Hereafter on my shelf for future reads Anyone have any suggestions from those books about where to head next with Banks The story Affliction is told by the Timoe younger brother of the protagonist Wade Whitehouse It is not complicated Wade wanted his father dead he imagined death as either absence or confinement or in some cases both He wanted the furious redheaded man gone to someplace else and he wanted him imprisoned there locked up manacled bound so that he could not ball those hard fists of his and could not lash out with them could not swing his arms kick his feet grab and push and toss and kick a person With this as a background Wade grew up and hit other people including his wife Wade had simply hung his head and confessed thates in the heat of a uarrel he had hit her People shook their heads sadly when they heard this but they understood Lillian was a hard case a demanding intelligent woman with a lot of mouth on her a woman who made most people feel that she thought she was somehow superior to them and no doubt she made Wade feel that way too A man should never hit a woman but sometimes it is understandable Right It happens doesn t it It happens Much of the book is about Wade s life his life in turmoil with his ex wife with his father with his boss with his daughter with his girlfriend with his job He does not laugh or smile very much in fact hardly at all And as the book has promised from the beginning Wade s life begins to deteriorate as violence and paranoia take over The presentation of these events by Russell Banks is so detailed as to
put ou right there with Wade As the book jacket says Wade comes you right there with Wade As the book jacket
Wade comes in our minds as a good man beset by the dark side of the macho mentality The macho mentality in Lawford New Hampshire His twice wife Lillian saved him from that once twice Without Lillian without her recognition and protection Wade would have been forced to regard himself as no different than the boys and men who surrounded him deliberately roughened and coarse cultivating their violence for one another to admire and shrink from growing up with a defensive willed stupidity and then encouraging their sons to follow Without Lillian s recognition and protection Wade who was very good at being male in this world a hearty buff athletic sort of guy with a mean streak would have been unable to resist the influence of the males who surrounded himMaybe this is just the story of a boy who grew up and became his father a violent drunk But ou know how drunks can be sensitive It balances out the violent part But maybe balance is the wrong word It was deer hunting season in the story The time when men go into the woods to kill Affliction is magisterial heartbreaking deeply intelligent compassionate and often a nailbiter Banks writes beautiful sentences and amazing physical descriptions That said the book is at least 50 single spaced pages too long due to repetitious and near constant over explaining of the protagonist s confusions as well as some narrative elements that needn t get the amount of space they are provided and excessive backstory But I still had to give it 5 stars because a ear out I think about wade et al almost every day This is a powerful book and I enjoyed reading it The pain of Wade s childhood and the lasting damage caused by his father s abuse are absolutely convincingThe trouble starts when Russell Banks tries to make larger points about the hopeless working class and the injustices of the American system Banks is both a defeatist and a pessimist His outlook is rigidly fatalistic He tends to force symbolic meanings into the story based on the abuse the main character suffers The problem is Wade getting beat up by his father is not a metaphor for capitalism It s just Wade getting beat up by his father Not all working class kids are victims of abuse And not all victims of abuse are doomed to working class poverty It s ironic that Banks a leftist baby boomer if ever there was one has never heard of the Beach Boys The Wilson brothers Brian Dennis and Carl grew up in a dingy blue collar home and were raised by a savage brute much like Wade s father Most certainly their lives were tragic and their story is a sad one But it also involves all the things Russell Banks can t write about such as triumph over tremendous odds the redeeming power of music and es the opportunities offered by the American Dream None of this is to say AFFLICTION is a bad book It s just that the truth is often complex exhilarating and at the same time tragic than Russell Banks vision of America. Cret of the macho tradition Told by his articulate eually scarred ounger brother Wade's story becomes as spellbinding and inexorable as a fuse burning its way to the dynamit. Y in the plight of Wade Whitehouse himself I love but also dread because it ties my damn stomach in knots when a character starts down a path that ultimately leads to bloody tragedy Again I knew what was coming but I still found myself biting my coffee stirrers balling my napkins chewing the insides of my mouth hoping praying that Wade would make it out somehowI felt the same way reading AM Homes Music for Torching another great novel with a similar gosh bang wow of an ending I think though that Banks has a lot compassion for his characters than Homes does WIth Homes I m always wondering if I m not being let in on the entire joke that fact that a novel like Music for Torching might be to her a satire instead of just dead serious kind of pisses me off but I could just be an idiot At least with Banks pretension and all ou get serious treatment of complex characters That s what I like about Affliction the most Banks never lets Aquarelle, la lumire de l'eau you think even for a second that the citizens of Lawford New Hampshire are anything but real people And that s what makes Wade and his environs all the terrifying The characters the story how Banks people speak they are never trying to make a statement or represent a certain condition In the act of being though they make broader statements about the human condition I feel like I m writing in circles I m indulging in a little pretension myself So I ll stop and just tellou point blank go and read Affliction You won t regret it A sad and powerful story this is one of the best novels I ve read so far this The Routledge Companion to Free Will year Early on there s a sentence about the snow falling and gravity and I can t help but think of it as a metaphor for Wade the main character who seems hellbent on a path to his inevitable ruin Banks is somewhat of a fatalist even though he draws a contrast with Wade s brother Rolfe the narrator who seems both through character and circumstance he managed to avoid childhood beatings to escape a life like Wade s I felt an enormous sympathy for almost every character in this book Banks does character and plot very well in my opinion and I read it with a kind of drooling dread ie I knew everything would go wrong I even guessed how they would go wrong but still that was the medicine and I knew I had to swallow itIn my opinion Continental Drift was superior to Affliction but I still ate this up like the pessimist I am Banks has thus atoned for that let down Rule of the Bone Picked this one off the shelves last night in a turn back to serious stuff New England familyalcoholic dysfunction Sounds like Richard Russo wo the laughs Andre Dubus territory This was made into a film a fewears ago with Nick Nolte and James Coburn My other Russell Banks read was Continental Drift and I wound up dissatisfied with that one One chance for Mr Banks I ll get deeper into this tonight So far RB is doing a fine job of describing the dead end town that is the setting for his story In my 72 Myford Series 7 Lathe Manual: ML7, ML7-R, Super 7 years I have lived in 4 of the 6 New England states They each have uniue cultural and geographical characteristics as well as similarities The word picture that is being created here seems spot on to me My family lived in Webster New Hampshirea truly dinky town NW of Concord for severalears in the mid 60 s I was only there off and on but I know my mother didn t like it much She and my step father moved to Kittery Maine in 1967 A much livelier placeI ve reached the midway point and can now conclude that this seems to be the same basic story as Continental Drift clueless early middle aged white guy can t overcome the nastiness of his family past and make his life into something better than a constant bleep storm In other words he s afflicted Going forward it would seem that we ll be presented with another hard to believe scenario featuring murder for hire and local corruption Meanwhile Wade seems to think he has a chance of getting better custody of his daughter That ain t gonna happen either So there s really not a lot of suspense to be had here just the inevitable unfolding of a depressing reality So far this is book two out of two from Banks that tells the story of a man trapped by his own family past and his own f ed up character and judgementdecision making Some notes Wade sees state police cars and an ambulance screaming through town and doesn t immediately take steps to find out what s going on He IS the town police officer Why would the ambulance go to Littleton Isn t Hanover closer with it s big Dartmouth hospital The cops at the crime scene don t secure the deceased s gun the one he was killed with Jack just drives away with it Uh oh the author a Attirance Criminelle Tome 1 you seeer and describes steaming mugs of coffee How much affliction needs to be piled onto Wade s shoulders Is the toothache necessary A Browning BAR Nope It s either a Browning Automatic Rifle or a BARIMHO Lilian s words are stagy Joan Crawford ish when she refers to Jill as the child instead of just Jill Typical prose clunk from the author he was already tumescent tumescent Does Wade know that word How about He already had a hard on or he already had an erectionifou want to sound clinical Wade s disastrous encounter with Mel Gordon is laughably over blown and TV ish And so in semi conclusion while there might be considerable payoff in reading the book and following it s winding complicated plot I must conclude once again on the basis of what I ve read so far that while Russell Banks may well be a writer with serious intent he s just not that good of a writer We ll see how the rest goes Is throve a word and even if it is why use it instead of thrived Mentions Warner a town near where my family used to live Not a complimentary mention either RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK A page has been ripped out So the endgame is approaching and its going to be a disaster for Wade the author s made no secret about that One problem is Wade REALLY so stupid as to assume that the conclusions he s reachedwith little evidence other than suspicion are lock solid valid Strains the cred of the plotting a bitWell I didn t get this finished last night but tonight I will surely do it Like the clueless and desperate Bob in Continental Drift Wade is about to go bananas Lovely And so to the mysterious ending Rolfe comes down on the side that Wade was guilty guilty guilty but because of a plot gimmick employed earlier in the book the reader s not so sure If one version is to be believed the worst thing that Wade did was slap his daughter Not so good but not murder If the the version Rolfe wants force on us is right then Wade was indeed a murderer One little bit of evidence which Rolfe fails to mention at the end though he includes it in the storysays wade comes
might tip the balance in a particular directionbut I won gotip the balance in a directionbut I won t go In any case it s a peculiar thing for an author to do At the end of it all I have to wonder if Wade s meltdown isn t just a bit over the top operatic It was certainly an anti climax for me Not a surprise however So Rolfe reminds of Del in Canada The truck in the pond overkill A nice image but really slubs is that a word Lawford and Catamount are both. With a mean streak It is a mark of Russell Banks' artistry and understanding that Wade comes to loom in one's mind as a blue collar American Everyman afflicted by the dark se. This book was hard work and not even that rewarding as I d previously seen Paul Schrader s wonderful movie several times Sure having the impressive and powerful performance from Nick Nolte in mind throughout added a little extra oomph to proceedings but beyond that my efforts in reading this depressing and slow moving novel were not rewarded Disappointment rules OKOf course I should have done this the other way around devouring the literary wonder of Russell Banks before embarking on the same journey filtered through the warped mind of Paul Schrader but I was a film student what do Notes sur la mlodie des choses you expectAffliction is the story of Wade Whitehouse and how he came to commit horrific crimes before disappearing in to the snowy wilderness of New Hampshire USA It is a story told retrospectively by his brother who has interviewed the townsfolk in an attempt to piece together the events surrounding the behaviour of Wade and perhaps find some closure in its tellingIt starts off slow the narration occasionally repetitive far too much time spent on discussing the history of the town and the townsfolket Le druidisme au quotidien : Guide pratique et philosophique you are slowly becoming part of this world and as Wade Whitehouse falls apartou can t stop reading Banks has written a powerful novel featuring remarkable characters and seemingly authentic dialogue I highly recommend reading it if God de vader en God de moeder you areet to see the movie Sami et Julie CE1 Sami et Julie font des crpes you re sure to enjoy this one a great deal without the prior knowledge Of courseou could skip the book and just revel in the award winning performances of Nick Nolte and James Coburn First of all Russell Banks thank Deliciously Ella entre amis you forour style I had not read La vie sexuelle de Tintin you before and showing a masterful style is the first standard for my admission into the fan club of any novelist Your style is intelligent fluid and rich It is art It is not USA Today or even NY Times not vanilla Some readers who do not delight in its uniueness will find it a rough go Let em goThis book should be reuired reading in high schools and colleges I can think of no relevant lesson than this the intimate description I wanted to review a Russell Banks book because he is one of if not my favorite authors post the 1970s or so I ve read most of his books and I wont get into Affliction so much as to make this a review of the author who to me stands in contrast to all the twee cutesy crap that everyone seems to wet themselves over these days The characters are real people who have to live in the real world not the real world of college professors or the idle rich Events outside of their control collide with their internal natures and they deal with them or don t Things don t get tied up neatly at the end He doesn t eschew politics as vulgar or passe but doesn t launch into polemics Politics is the order that underlies all aspects of life and Banks realizes that simply by writing realistic accounts there will inevitably be a political undercurrent to the story Stylistically I ve always felt that Banks writes in a sort of sweet spot that other authors are rarely able to locate The prose isn t so sparse or so flowery as to seem dull The dialog is effortlessly realistic and the characters are about as complex as they get even most of the minor ones and the ones that are from groups that Banks is not included in himself women African Americans immigrants He s a master of setting as well and the books always seem to move at a brisk pace even when not much happens in the plot I guess ifou like a lot of humor ou might be disappointed and some of his books are successful than others but in my opinion he is way ahead of all the fashionable 2000s writers who seem to get a free ride if the identity politics in their novels is PC enough or if they use enough postmodern parlor tricks But anywayThe enraged Marxist has vented for the night OkayI don t know if I can do Banks novel any justice with a review Just a few hours after finishing it I m still awe struck and a little numb All evening I ve felt myself digesting it Felt it seeping from my brain into my blood Affliction is the kind of novel I would love to write So much of my adoration comes from a craft standpoint I ve read a few reviews complaining about Banks style and I will say that it
challenging but really only the beginning When I took Jonis Agee s novel writing class at UNL she warned us repeatedly of long front porch openings The novel is a house she said and long front porch openings spend too much time outside the house afraid to go in and instead describe at length the walk up Affliction does this A lot I ll admit I tried reading this book a few months back and couldn t get through the first two pages But I saw Paul Schrader s film adaptation and found myself thinking about it nearly every day I can honestly say that the story haunted me It kept playing in the back of my head And the last linewell I won t spoil it for ou But I thought if the ending of the novel is even half as powerful as the ending to the movie I ll force my way through the beginning And it is The ending is there in all it s depressing heartbreaking glory Schrader s Affliction is faithful to Banks book in every detail it speaks I think to Banks talent that someone me can know what s coming and still be riveted on each page Sure there is than a little myth building going on And that may be Banks downfall and uite possibly his voice Shortly after watching Schrader s film I borrowed a collection of Banks short stories from my friend Gunter and had the same problem withS Challenging But Really Only
the openings to those stories I couldn t get in It felt at times like Banks was trying toopenings to those stories I couldn t get in It felt at times like Banks was trying to up the human condition with each and every line I ended up thinking he was probably than a little pretentious I still do Looking through his work his other novels I m than a little overwhelmed at the idea of touching another one But this story the story of Affliction not the rise but the horrible fall of Wade Whitehouse is too good to stop just because sometimes Banks artistry gets in the wayI also think the myth building may be necessary given Banks choice of narrator Wade s educated history teacher of a little brother Rolfe I ve read than a few reviews of Affliction labeling Rolfe s narration as dull and overly detailed And to be honest there were times when I thought that Rolfe could simply be Banks himself But there is I think a point to Banks choice of Rolfe as our storyteller I m not sure what the point is Not You Its Me (Boston Love, yet but I know it s there Rolfe as a student and teacher of history is trying to relate the history of a family he long ago and justly abandoned And through Rolfe Banks is trying to tell the history of violent men at large Sure this is heady stuff It s than a little ambitious but that s what I like about Affliction It wears its bigness on its sleeve You could probably label it the great American novel and I doubtou would be wrong at least in regard to Banks intentions for Affliction You might not agree with me but I think he pulled it off Affliction is the best novel I ve read in ears mainly because I was utterly and completely absorbed in it in its characters and location and particularl. Wade Whitehouse is an improbable protagonist for a tragedy A well digger and policeman in a bleak New Hampshire town he is a former high school star gone to beer fat a loner.