Chris Laskey's Reviews > Continental Drift

Continental Drift by Russell Banks
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M_50x66
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Jun 02, 09

Read in June, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Be very careful what you wish for..........
Continental Drift is a deeply bitter and cynical work reminiscent of Revolutionary Road and much like that work also very well written and paced almost like a thriller. It shows that you can make great works that move deftly and prove thought provoking as well. Banks writes of two tales that ultimately intertwine and bring about the sad downfall of the main character. It certainly is not a book for the faint of heart or to those in the throes of life's disillusions as this book is extremely pessimistic and all the characters involved have doom etched into their souls.
Despite the relentless downward spiral the novel still plays into a certain humor albeit extremely dark. This is in part to his narrative style which at times evokes a Rod Serling kind of prescient observer. In fact there is that to the novel of someone standing and telling you: "This is Bob. He's about to destroy his life, but he doesn't know that yet, but let's watch him move through his day and let's see where this day goes wrong and he finds himself... in the Twilight Zone" Well this could be such an fictitious event but it is steeped in a reality that obviously has either personal history or has been richly researched.
More importantly it raises interesting issues on the pursuit of dreams and how ill thought out plans and recklessness can unhitch one's wagon and bring about a world of pain to themselves and others. In this case Bill, the main character in the novel, seems more than just reckless - he seems completely unaware at times of his indecencies and almost stupid approaches to finding answers. A sure case of choosing the wrong path each and every single time. Unwinding in the other tale is the story of Voodoo and Haitian manifest destinies that also seem fated to a sad ending. While the events telegraph themselves one still believes that some good will come out of the train wreck of lives, but that is for another work. This novel has no warm bright happy spot or answer to provide any redeeming sense to man's ability to totally destroy all that surrounds him either maliciously or through sheer stupidity.
Still the work provokes and like watching a horrible crash on the road proves irresistible to watch and while you can breath a sigh of relief when it's over there is also that vague sense that perhaps, only merely by the grace of God, that it isn't you.
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