Ali's Reviews > Lost Memory of Skin

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
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's review
Dec 05, 2011

liked it
Read from December 05 to 06, 2011

(Minor spoilers)
When I was seven years old, I almost had the big toe of my left foot sliced off. I would venture to say that the pain caused by that incident is approximately equal to the pain dealt to my intellect by this novel.

I loved the idea of it. Explore a rapidly growing and despised element of our society, portraying the characters as human beings rather than the inhuman monsters the media loves, never excusing them for what they have done or expecting us to sympathize with them (rightfully so), but showing their human sides first all the same. Ask some philosophical questions about why we treat all of them the way we do, whether they were caught thoughtlessly urinating in a public place or soliciting sex from minors on the Internet. Challenge our views, make us think.
And the novel did not disappoint in this regard...for the first 250 pages. I was wondering why the professor seemed so unpopular with reviewers on here, as I found him intriguing when he was introduced. Then came the government corruption/spying plotline, and the book swiftly descended into sensationalism, and I understood. Also, the long, boring filibusters, which grew more frequent as the book progressed, about the history of Florida which have little to no relevance to the plot and make the narrative inconsistent drive my rating even lower. Recommended with reservations.

Edit: Though, on the subject of the Professor, I do like that we never find out the truth of his identity, what he's done and why. I like when art, in this case literature, imitates life in that some mysteries cannot be solved, only overcome, which is why I loved Carol Plum-Ucci's The Body of Christopher Creed so much when I read it in January of 2010, and why I will likely not read the sequel, because at this point, I kind of don't want it to be solved.

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