Kathrina's Reviews > Lost Memory of Skin

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
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May 25, 13

bookshelves: lock-up, american-fiction
Read from May 18 to 23, 2013

Everything I want to say about this book feels more like a defense than a review, and I don't want to go that road. For some reason, maybe it's my several years working with sex offenders in a prison book group, watching them empathize and identify with the same characters I empathize and identify with, or it's the injustices I've researched in offender and ex-offender access barriers to information and resources that can help rebuild their lives, and the intentional structure of our society that feels justified in removing all possibilities of forging a successful future for some at the expense of us all, but this is more than a novel to me, it lives deep under my skin, and I cringe when I read some of the naive, boorish reviews here by readers unwilling to step away from their telescope sight. This book tells us explicitly -- you can never know another -- all their secrets and lies they tell you and themselves -- no one is who they appear to be, for better or for worse and mostly evenly both, and no one stays the same. Your judgement is an interpretation, and we believe in what supports our own stories of ourselves. If I believe I have three dimensions, I may begin to actually take up space, and not apologize for doing so.
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Reading Progress

05/18/2013 marked as: currently-reading
05/25/2013 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Lisa I was very interested to see what you thought.


message 2: by Snotchocheez (last edited May 26, 2013 02:04PM) (new) - added it

Snotchocheez I'm a long-time fan of Russell Banks, K. I was scared to see what you'd say about this, as one of the last novels of his prior to this one was a huge disappointment (The Reserve, 2008) and was afraid he'd given up with writing about contemporary issues. From what I read (particularly of the reviews you slammed, heh) I know this is gonna be a tough one to get through...and, yet, I can't wait to try.


Kathrina Russell Banks is a different author with every book he writes. I, too, was nervous about reading this one, since I never know how I'll feel about his work, and the subject matter is particularly sensitive to me. I really struggled with his Clousplitter -- but that was ages ago -- I recognized his skill at the same time as I felt it was overwritten. Banks writes this one in a peculiar, run-on style, but it is appropriate to his protagonist's voice. This one really worked for me. Can't wait to hear what you think...


Laura Thanks for this thoughtful review.


Linda What was most impressive about this book was the way that Banks exposed how shallow stereotypes (both positive and negative) prevent us from treating each other as individuals. You are right, this book will live under my skin.


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