Permanent Member of the Family, A by Russell Banks

83%

10 Critic Reviews

In the more powerful tales, Mr. Banks uses his sturdy gifts as a writer — his plain-spoken language, his sympathy for the downtrodden and depressed, his eye for detail (those unstrapped shoes, flipped off Ellen’s feet) — to give us visceral portraits of people trying to make sense of the past and the present.
-NY Times

Synopsis

Suffused with Russell Banks’s trademark lyricism and reckless humor, the twelve stories in A Permanent Member of the Family examine the myriad ways we try—and sometimes fail—to connect with one another, as we seek a home in the world.

In the title story, a father looks back on the legend of the cherished family dog whose divided loyalties mirrored the fragmenting of his marriage. “A Former Marine” asks, to chilling effect, if one can ever stop being a parent. And in the haunting, evocative “Veronica,” a mysterious woman searching for her daughter may not be who she claims she is.

Moving between the stark beauty of winter in upstate New York and the seductive heat of Florida, Banks’s acute and penetrating collection demonstrates the range and virtuosity of both his narrative prowess and his startlingly panoramic vision of modern American life.

 

About Russell Banks

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Russell Banks is the former president of Cities of Refuge North America, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. Banks lives in upstate New York, and he was the New York State author from 2004–2008.
 
Published November 12, 2013 by Ecco. 241 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Permanent Member of the Family, A
All: 10 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Sep 01 2013

One of America’s great novelists...also writes excellent stories, as his sixth collection reminds readers...Old-fashioned short fiction: honest, probing and moving.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Sep 09 2013

While these exquisitely crafted stories are highly personal, they are also permeated by a sense of sadness about the death of the American dream, as the country struggles, out of work and seemingly out of hope.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Dec 09 2013

In the more powerful tales, Mr. Banks uses his sturdy gifts as a writer — his plain-spoken language, his sympathy for the downtrodden and depressed, his eye for detail (those unstrapped shoes, flipped off Ellen’s feet) — to give us visceral portraits of people trying to make sense of the past and the present.

Read Full Review of Permanent Member of the Famil... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Gary Krist on Nov 15 2013

Banks is a master of the kind of old-school, unadorned realism that hasn’t really been the fashion in short stories since the days of Raymond Carver. But here he executes it with a psychological precision...

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Ariel Balter on Oct 17 2013

A Permanent Member of the Family is not a feel-good book, and perhaps best not read in one sitting. Nonetheless, it is an exceptionally well-written, engaging, unified collection..

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Dec 12 2013

The discoveries made by most of the other characters in this collection remain, by contrast, rather dark. But taken together, these stories comprise a richly composed tribute to life.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Lionel Shriver on Nov 22 2013

A Permanent Member of the Family is a solid collection. Though the 12 short stories are not all memorable, none of them is bad, and two are terrific.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Malcolm Forbes on Dec 07 2013

...Banks ensures each story is a snippet of life, packing every vignette with pulse and emotion. Whether we are reading about disintegrating families or ruined marriages, dead dogs or invisible parrots, the best stories here are stunning depictions of human survival and vulnerability.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by David Ulin on Nov 22 2013

In these stories, Banks traces not so much the road not taken as the view from the end of the lane. There's a reflective quality, a sense of choices made, of consequence, in which redemption and resignation may be two sides of the same coin.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Dec 12 2013

Banks has always been a writer of profound morality and conscience; his greatness lies in the fact that he never allows these things to penetrate the surface of his words.

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Reader Rating for Permanent Member of the Family, A
76%

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