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Lost Memory of Skin

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  5,834 Ratings  ·  877 Reviews
“Like our living literary giants Toni Morrison and Thomas Pynchon, Russell Banks is a great writer wrestling with the hidden secrets and explosive realities of this country.”
—Cornel West

“Of the many writers working in the great tradition today, one of the best is Russell Banks.”
New York Times

Lost Memory of Skin is a provocative novel of spiritual and moral redemption from
Paperback, 417 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Ecco (first published September 27th 2011)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

Before reading this book, I never bothered looking at the National Sex Offender Registry. Maybe it’s because I don’t have children, or I don’t care to know that much about my neighbors, or I have my doubts that all the people listed are truly dangerous. Now that I’ve finished the book, I decided to go have a look. First, I found all 8 sex offenders in my area. After studying their faces closely, noting where they lived and how old they were, I looked at sexual offenders
Will Byrnes
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
switterbug (Betsey)
The main character of Banks’ new novel, a twenty-two-year-old registered sex offender in South Florida known only as “the Kid,” may initially repel readers. The Kid is recently out of jail and on ten-year probation in fictional Calusa County, and is required to wear a GPS after soliciting sex from an underage girl. Ironically, he is still a virgin.

The Kid cannot leave the county, but he also cannot reside within 2,500 feet from any place children would congregate. That leaves three options—the
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: give-to-goodwill
What is wrong with the world out there? This dreadful, pretentious, simple-minded, badly structured, cliche-ridden book was not only recommended to me by my shrink (and that's *really* worrying) but it was reviewed by the NY Times thus: "Banks may be the most compassionate fiction writer working today ... Banks remains our premier chronicler of the doomed and forgotten American male ... 'Lost Memory of Skin' is a major new work by Russell Banks destined to be a canonical novel of its time."

Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love sex offenders.

Here's the thing. I've been a public defender for six years, and I've worked for hundreds of people, with a wide variety of criminal charges, and my favorite clients - bar none - are sex offenders. See, I work in the district court system, handling less serious criminal cases, so I don't generally get clients charged with the sex offenses themselves, but I have worked for many convicted sex offenders charged with Failure to Register. My clients are people who have done some
Dec 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Does anyone else think this writer's style is awful? My brain gets tired following the rambling, run-on sentences. The book has an interesting premise, but I am not about to endure 400 pages of sentences like this one:

"But he hasn't spoken to any of them not even his mother in over a year and whenever he accidentally on the street spots somebody he once knew slightly from school or from hanging out at the mall in the old days or his job at the light store before he enlisted in the army which hap
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 tha ...more
Larry Bassett
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I like books that deal with social issues. Lost Memory of Skin did that with a topic that is not common in current fiction but is a significant but mostly hidden issue: homeless convicted sex offenders. It humanizes people who are most commonly reviled and helps us realize that this is our problem and not just theirs and may have something to say about our development of relationships in this computer and digital age.

This book includes a tour of a place where convicted sex offenders live for la
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i have read books by russell banks that i have liked a lot -- i have a tremendously fond memory of Rule of the Bone and Continental Drift and his book about liberia, The Darling, certainly has value -- it's a pretty brutal look at liberia's terrible history of massacres, though i'm always a bit wary of books about africa's wounds written by first worlders.


this book would get 5 stars solely for the fact that it focuses on the horrible plight of convicted sex offenders, a violation of human
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Russell Banks’ Lost Memory of Skin is a very, very good book that’s very, very hard to like. Actually, I take that back. It’s easy to like if you’re a reader who accepts that protagonists can be flawed, possibly beyond redemption. If you’re a fan of Banks, you know to expect this. This is, after all, the same guy who’s made a career of trafficking in problematic characters – from militant abolitionist John Brown (Cloudsplitter) to an opportunistic lawyer and incestuous father (The Sweet Hereafte ...more
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Sex Registry 5 58 Jul 06, 2016 10:50AM  
Is there a discussion on this yet? 14 68 Jun 22, 2014 04:30PM  
What are Russell Banks's best novels? 17 181 Jun 21, 2014 09:55PM  
Train books 1 7 Sep 23, 2013 06:19AM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN: 9780061857645 2 26 Nov 27, 2012 01:27PM  
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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
More about Russell Banks...
“What you believe matters, however. It’s all anyone has to act on. And since what you do is who you are, your actions define you. If you don’t believe anything is true simply because you can’t logically prove what’s true, you won’t do anything. You won’t be anything. You’ll end up spending your life in a rocking chair looking out at the horizon waiting for an answer that never comes. You might as well be dead. It’s an old philosophical problem.” 9 likes
“Boys like it when you talk to them as if they were grown men—at least he always did when he was a kid—because they pretend that’s what they are anyhow, grown-up men, and they do it for their entire lives.” 8 likes
More quotes…