Synopses & Reviews
A masterly collection of new stories from Russell Banks, acclaimed author of The Sweet Hereafter
and Rule of the Bone
, which maps the complex terrain of the modern American family
The New York Times lauds Russell Banks as "the most compassionate fiction writer working today" and hails him as a novelist who delivers "wrenching, panoramic visions of American moral life." Long celebrated for his unflinching, empathetic works that explore the unspoken but hard realities of contemporary culture, Banks now turns his keen intelligence and emotional acuity on perhaps his most complex subject yet: the shape of family in its many forms.
Suffused with Banks's trademark lyricism and reckless humor, the twelve stories in A Permanent Member of the Family examine the myriad ways we try — and sometimes fail — to connect with one another, as we seek a home in the world. In the title story, a father looks back on the legend of the cherished family dog whose divided loyalties mirrored the fragmenting of his marriage. In "Christmas Party," a young man entertains dark thoughts as he watches his newly remarried ex-wife leading the life he once imagined they would share. "A Former Marine" asks, to chilling effect, if one can ever stop being a parent. And in the haunting, evocative "Veronica," a mysterious woman searching for her missing daughter may not be who she claims she is.
Moving between the stark beauty of winter in upstate New York and the seductive heat of Florida, A Permanent Member of the Family charts with subtlety and precision the ebb and flow of both the families we make for ourselves and the ones we're born into, as it asks how we know the ones we love and, in turn, ourselves. One of our most acute and penetrating authors, Banks's virtuosic writing animates stories that are profoundly humane, deeply — and darkly — funny, and absolutely unforgettable.
“Old-fashioned short fiction: honest, probing and moving.” Kirkus Reviews
“[O]ne of the best books I've read in years.” Real Simple magazine
“While these exquisitely crafted stories are highly personal, they are also permeated by a sense of sadness about the death of the American dream, as the country struggles, out of work and seemingly out of hope.” Publishers Weekly
"A resounding collection by an essential American writer." Booklist
“[A]n exceptionally well-written, engaging, unified collection.” New York Journal of Books
“Banks's short fiction is relentlessly realistic, never cynical, and always attentive to the human condition.” Shelf Awareness
"Banks is a master of the kind of old-school, unadorned realism that hasn't really been the fashion in short stories since the days of Raymond Carver." New York Times Book Review
“These characters are all broken in wonderfully literary ways (When a terrible thing happens, and it's your own damn fault, there's no closure, he thought. Whatever happened, you live with it.) but Banks is primarily concerned with telling a good story, and the pages fly by.” Daily Beast
“It's a gift to experience such expertly evoked pathos, to see how Banks meticulously picks out and exposes the strands of his characters muddled and suppressed feelings.” Boston Globe
Suffused with Russell Banks's trademark lyricism and reckless humor, the twelve stories in A Permanent Member of the Family examine the myriad ways we try--and sometimes fail--to connect with one another, as we seek a home in the world.
In the title story, a father looks back on the legend of the cherished family dog whose divided loyalties mirrored the fragmenting of his marriage. "A Former Marine" asks, to chilling effect, if one can ever stop being a parent. And in the haunting, evocative "Veronica," a mysterious woman searching for her daughter may not be who she claims she is.
Moving between the stark beauty of winter in upstate New York and the seductive heat of Florida, Banks's acute and penetrating collection demonstrates the range and virtuosity of both his narrative prowess and his startlingly panoramic vision of modern American life.
About the Author
Russell Banks is one of America's most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.