[Read by Robert Fass]
With The Angel on the Roof, Russell Banks offers an astonishing collection of thirty years of his short fiction, which he selected and revised especially for this volume, including nine previously uncollected stories that are among the finest he has ever written. As is characteristic of all of Banks' works, these stories resonate with irony and compassion, honesty and insight, extending into the vast territory of the heart and the world, from workingclass New England to the Caribbean and Africa. Broad in scope and rich in imagination, The Angel on the Roof affirms Russell Banks' place as one of the masters of American storytelling.
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Russell Banks (The Sweet Hereafter, Affliction) started out as a poet, and nowhere is this more evident than in his 37 years' worth of exquisite short stories, collected here in one hefty volume for the first time. In a mournfully lyrical phrase, he can evoke his characteristic landscape, the icy northeastern U.S.: "The air was crystalline, almost absent. The fields lay like aged plates of bone--dry, scoured by the cold until barren of possibility, incapable even of decomposition." Though his stories venture to Jamaica and Africa, Banks keeps coming back to New Hampshire and the themes of divorce, poverty, violence, and what he calls "the old father-and-son thing." He's not slumming in his trailer-park tales: his own drunken prole father beat him brutally, and Banks knows how grief and guilt shatter and unite families and small towns.
Characters often crop up in more than one story, giving the setting novelistic depth, drawing us into each life. In "Queen for a Day," we meet the young children of the Painter clan of New Hampshire as their dad is abandoning their mom, who then loses her job. "They run to her and wrap her in their arms... the three of them wind around each other like snakes moving in and out of one another's coils." In "Firewood," Painter's grown children rebuff his offer of fuel for their hearth, repaying his indifference, and Banks gives us a bad-guy's-eye view of their shared loneliness. In "The Fisherman," a $50,000 lottery is won by an old ice fisherman who stashes it in a cigar box, eliciting character-revealing reactions from the trailer-park denizens. "Dis Bwoy, Him Gwan" further reveals why the local pothead Bruce Severance so urgently needs the fisherman's money. The stories resonate and illuminate each other, the dialogue is pitch-perfect, and the collection has the cohesiveness of a 500-page novel. Banks's prose has the stark grace of classical tragedy. He's a poet after all. --Tim AppeloAbout the Author:
RUSSELL BANKS is the author of poetry, nonfiction, and more than fifteen works of fiction admired for their realism and portrayal of working-class people. Cloudsplitter and Continental Drift were both finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous international prizes. Two of his novels, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction, have been made into award-winning films. A member of the International Parliament of Writers and former New York State Author, Banks was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996. He lives in upstate New York.
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Book Description Harper and Row, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0676973035