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Lost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell…

Lost Memory of Skin: A Novel (edition 2011)

by Russell Banks

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5483418,269 (3.65)28
Title:Lost Memory of Skin: A Novel
Authors:Russell Banks
Info:Ecco (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 432 pages
Collections:Your library, TIOLI 2012

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Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

  1. 00
    The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe (Babou_wk)
    Babou_wk: La présence de l'écrivain lui-même à l'intérieur du roman.

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
The plot of Banks's latest novel is such that one could be excused for avoiding it. However, Banks is such a skillful writer, who creates characters one can care about and plots that are thought-provoking, that I recommend you give this one a try.

Stated simply, it's a book about convicted sex offenders living under a highway overpass. More particularly, it's the story of the Kid, one of those offenders, who has led a hard-scrabble life and who is a 22 year old virgin. The dilemma for these sex offenders is that they are forbidden to live within 2500 feet of any place children might gather. For this particular county the only places that qualify are the airport, a swamp on the edge of town, and the underpass.

A "cosmetic" police raid scatters the inhabitants for a short while, but as they begin to reassemble under the causeway, an enigmatic character, the Professor, begins visiting. He is a professor, a putative genius, and purports to be studying the problems of sex offenders and homelessness. He focuses on the Kid, and seeks the Kid's trust with financial and practical assistance. The Professor has a mysterious past, is grossly obese, and conceals a host of peculiarities. The relationship between the Professor and the Kid is the integral part of most of the book. Things come to a head when a hurricane disperses the underpass residents once again.

The book succeeds as a character study of two troubled individuals. It also raises issues about the treatment of sex offenders, and whether there should be degrees of punishment. Despite its subject matter, I have no problem recommending it. If you've read any of Banks's other superb novels, you know why. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Feb 24, 2016 |
Definitely not subject matter for an easy, enjoyable read! I did find the book very thought provoking. The life of the criminal sex offender is a strange conundrum. ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
I feel like more people should read this sort of thing, just to open their eyes on the gaps in society, and some of the problems out there. For example, teenage sex offenders really shouldn't be labeled...20 with a 17 year old, I'm talking that sort of thing.

However, I lost interest in the main character early in the book, and that is never a good thing.
( )
  Schlyne | Nov 12, 2015 |
I don't ever remember finishing a book, putting it down, and saying aloud, "Well, that was a stupid book." Until now. The book had potential. It is about a young sex offender who is on probation and living under a bridge because he isn’t allowed to live within so many miles of day cares, schools, etc. He can’t leave the county, so under this bridge is the only place he can live. Then along comes this professor who is allegedly studying the connection between convicted sex offenders and homelessness. The form a friendship of sorts, but the character of the professor is just not very well developed and I just didn't get it.

The book had potential to make powerful statements about the complicated nature of pedophilia and other sex offenses, and it seemed like maybe it was going to get there, but it never really did.
( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Not sure about this one, looks interesting but grim.
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
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It isn't like the kid is locally famous for doing a good or a bad thing and even if people knew his real name it wouldn't change how they treat him unless they looked it up online which is not something he wants to encourage.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061857637, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: In Lost Memory of Skin, Russell Banks plays peek-a-boo with the reader lifting each corner just enough to wonder at what may lie underneath. When we meet the Kid, he is grappling with his public status as a convicted sex offender, living under a Florida causeway with other men whom society finds “both despicable and impossible to remove and thus by most people simply wished out of existence.” Enter the Professor, with his genius IQ and massive physical presence, eager to prove that men like the Kid have been shaped by social forces and are capable of change. The pair seem diametrically opposed yet share a “profound sense of isolation, of difference and solitude…,” held hostage by their secrets in this morally complex and thought-provoking story of illusions and blurry truths in a novel that that hums with electricity from beginning to end. --Seira Wilson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

This is a novel that illuminates the shadowed edges of contemporary American culture with startling and unforgettable results. Suspended in a strangely modern day version of limbo, the young man at the center of this morally complex new novel must create a life for himself in the wake of incarceration. Known in his new identity only as the Kid, and on probation after doing time for a liaison with an underage girl, he is shackled to a GPS monitoring device and forbidden to live within 2,500 feet of anywhere children might gather. With nowhere else to go, the Kid takes up residence under a south Florida causeway, in a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders. Barely beyond childhood himself, the Kid, despite his crime, is in many ways an innocent, trapped by impulses and foolish choices he himself struggles to comprehend. Enter the Professor, a man who has built his own life on secrets and lies. A university sociologist of enormous size and intellect, he finds in the Kid the perfect subject for his research on homelessness and recidivism among convicted sex offenders. The two men forge a tentative partnership, the Kid remaining wary of the Professor's motives even as he accepts the counsel and financial assistance of the older man. When the camp beneath the causeway is raided by the police, and later, when a hurricane all but destroys the settlement, the Professor tries to help the Kid in practical matters while trying to teach his young charge new ways of looking at, and understanding, what he has done. But when the Professor's past resurfaces and threatens to destroy his carefully constructed world, the balance in the two men's relationship shifts. Suddenly, the Kid must reconsider everything he has come to believe, and choose what course of action to take when faced with a new kind of moral decision. In this novel the author examines the indistinct boundaries between our intentions and actions. It probes the zeitgeist of a troubled society where zero tolerance has erased any hope of subtlety and compassion, a society where isolating the offender has perhaps created a new kind of victim.… (more)

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