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Family Life

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  89 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
In Family Life, Russell Banks' first novel, he transforms the dramas of domesticity into the story of a royal family in a mythical contemporary kingdom. Life inside this kingdom includes the king (dubbed "the Hearty" or "the Bluff"), who squeals angrily as is his wont; the queen, who, while pondering the mirror in her chambers, decides to write a book; three adolescent pri ...more
ebook, 144 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published August 1st 1987)
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I checked the book's back cover after starting to read it and discovered it is Russell Banks's first novel. The copyright is 1974. I found the novel an odd piece of work, but as a writer, I liked the quirky structure - a very brave feat to endeavor. In the middle of the book, a section or chapter consists of a novel written by one of the characters. The book has the same number of characters in a "family" in each section or chapter, but sometimes they have different names and are in different lo ...more
Aug 05, 2015 Brandt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
While notable as being Banks first novel/novella, it's a book with an interesting concept that is poorly executed. By trying to superimpose a contemporary family over the top of a medieval/feudal setting, the characters come across as wooden and uninteresting. This may come as a shock to fans of Banks, who is a master at exploring interpersonal relationships in novels like The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction.

I'm currently trying to read all of Banks work in the order he released it (currently re
Feb 22, 2014 Alex rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Very obviously the work of a young man, who tries desperately to be quirky and edgy. Reads a little like Donald Barthelme - at his worst.
Mar 27, 2011 Lynn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't get what this book was about. I felt like it had to be an allegory, but of what? Strange, unsettling, oddly beautiful, but not the type of book you recommend or wish to read again or even to spend much time contemplating. It's all sex and violence and fanciful until toward the end, when it becomes surprisingly mundane. One of the strangest books I've ever read, from one of the last authors I would have expected to stray so far from realism. What to make o ...more
I feel like there is a Rosetta stone out there that will explain this book. It's about Vietnam. But it's also a fairy tale. and it's also crazy. It also doesn't read like ANYTHING else Banks has written.
Ronald Wilcox
First novel by Banks. Story of a king and queen and their three princes that is very surrealistic. Interesting and looking forward to reading others by the author.
Apr 18, 2009 Tanya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange, analogy (in a fairy tale), parallel story where two stories are one. Essentially about a husband and wife and their lives separately and together.
Oct 04, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, weird, and unlike anything else I've read. Seems to be the precursor to some more recent experimental fiction.
Feb 27, 2012 Alice rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
rewrite of Odyssess
Jan 29, 2013 Brent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not his best.
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Russell Banks is a member 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 international prizes and awards. He has written fiction, and more recently, non-fiction, with Dreaming up America. His main works include the novels Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplit ...more
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