A powerful literary classic from one of contemporary fiction's most acclaimed and important writers, Russell Banks's Continental Drift is a masterful novel of hope lost and gained, and a gripping, indelible story of fragile lives uprooted and transformed by injustice, disappointment, and the seductions and realities of the American dream.
This is an American story of the late twentieth century, writes Banks and he means it: this is a powerful novel of hope and loss set in the recession of the early 1980's, concerned with characters who c ...more
Bob Dubois is a white working class stiff, with more intelligence than articulation (and more unarticulated intelligence than the people around him), living in the cold ragged little cities of New Hampshire, fixing oil burners. His life is falling apart. And so, like a bird seeking warmth from the sun of life, he drifts south, with his family...to a promised land.... ...more
After finishing the book, which I took breaks from because it wasn't really grabbing me, I read mor ...more
I remember a line from Mike Nichols, the playwright. He said something like this: How are we really? How do people really react in situations. That's been my tapline towards reading ever since.
Russell Banks writes down to the bone of our truths. How the hell does he know how so many types of people do react.
His subjects drive ...more
Every one of us is on a chemical continuum from off-the-wall crazy to comatose. This is a good reason for compassion since we play the game of life with the equipment we have, lacking the "right" amount of one chemical and having too much of another. While some may say we determine the course of our lives ...more
It's a terrible thing to go from being something to being nothing! A terrible thing for a man to endure, to be nothing after having been something. Life is grudging in what it gives, so take whatever it gives as if that's all you're ever going to get.
This is a hard pill to swallow, especially to Bob Dubois, who looses everything that's close t ...more
I also am finding that Bob's solidness as a character -- he is, for me at least, fully realized and present for the reader -- makes it all the more... what, frustrating? I'm kind of wanting to say offensive, actually ... that the Haitian characters are so clearly Haitia ...more
In reading Continental Drift, a tragedy in every sense, I was struck by how usual the novel was in its structure and its distinct narrator. Banks employs a Haitian loa (a spirit of the dead) to tell us the story of Bob Dubois, a frustrated, blue-collar resident of New Hampshire, and Vanise Dorsonville, a Haitian immigrant, and young mother, looking to escape to America for a significantly better life. The traditional use of the narrator as an all-knowing persona, as Russell Banks ...more
And Banks is a writer to be looked forward to, no matter how dark, miserable and depressing his stories become. This is another winner. In fact, sooner or later I will read it again.
His epic Cloudsplitter is my favorite of his works (and a full five stars from me!). This collection isn't quite up to that standard, but then it's a nearly impossib ...more
I picked this up because I thought it might offer some inspiration as I piece together a documentary concerning what it means to drift, move ones home, change one's country and culture. But when I finished, I realized that this book spoke to me from a dusty corner of a crowded New Orleans bookstore for an entirely different reason. And I am glad it spoke to me.
I read it on and off for half a year because it can be unrelentingly bleak and switching between vastly different n ...more
The Haitian characters never came alive for me. In fact, they only took away from the narrative for me. It was obvious the two plots woul ...more
This is a tragedy in the very purest sense: some characters are self-destructive and others are simply destroyed by others, but no one comes through unshaken (including the reader).