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The Sweet Hereafter: A Novel

Banks, Russell

Published by Harpercollins, New York, 1991
ISBN 10: 0060167033 / ISBN 13: 9780060167035
Used / Hard Cover / Quantity Available: 1
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Bibliographic Details


Title: The Sweet Hereafter: A Novel

Publisher: Harpercollins, New York

Publication Date: 1991

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition, First Printing

Description:

In a clear protective Brodart mylar cover. Author'sacclaimed novel focusing on the aftermath of a deadly bus accident and the inhabitants of the small town that bore the brunt of the tragedy. Made into a fine film of the same name featuring Nick Nolte. Light wear to bottom corners, a hint of spotting to top text block. Bookseller Inventory # 1002035

About this title:

Book ratings provided by GoodReads:
3.84 avg rating
(6,365 ratings)

Synopsis: When fourteen children from the small town of Sam Dent are lost in a tragic accident, its citizens are confronted with one of life?s most difficult and disturbing questions: When the worst happens, whom do you blame, and how do you cope? Masterfully written, it is a large-hearted novel that brings to life a cast of unforgettable small-town characters and illuminates the mysteries and realities of love as well as grief.

The Sweet Hereafter was released as a major motion picture by Atom Egoyan in 1997 and won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. Egoyan also received Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay that year.

Review: Atom Egoyan's Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter is a good movie, remarkably faithful to the spirit of Russell Banks's novel of the same name, but Banks's book is twice as good. With the cool logic of accreting snowflakes, his prose builds a world--a small U.S. town near Canada--and peoples it with four vivid, sensitive souls linked by a school-bus tragedy: the bus driver; the widowed Vietnam vet who was driving behind the bus, waving at his kids, when it went off the road; the perpetually peeved negligence lawyer who tries to shape the victims' heartaches into a winning case; and the beauty-queen cheerleader crippled by the crash, whose testimony will determine everyone's fate.

We experience the story from inside the heads of the four characters in turn--each knowing things the others don't, each misunderstanding the facts in his or her own way. The method resembles Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury and Gilbert Sorrentino's stunning Aberration of Starlight, but Banks's achievement is most comparable to John Updike's tales of ordinary small-towners preternaturally gifted with slangy eloquence, psychological insights, and alertness to life's tiniest details.

Egoyan's film is haunting but vague--it leaves viewers in the dark regarding several critical plot points. Banks's book is more haunting still, and precise, making every revelation count, with a finale far superior to that of the film. It's also wittier than the too-sober flick: the lawyer dismisses the dome-dwelling hippie parents of one of the crash victims as being "lost in their Zen Little Indians fantasy," which casts a sharp light on them and him, too. He's lost in his calculations of how each parent will fit into the legal system, and the ways in which he fits into the tragedy are lost on him. If only he and the Vietnam-vet dad could read each other's account of their tense first encounter, both of them might get what the other is missing.

Banks's wit is pitiless--it's painful when we discover that the bus driver, who prides herself on interpreting for her stroke-impaired husband, is translating his wise but garbled observations all wrong. The crash turns out not to be the ultimate tragedy: in the cold northern light of its aftermath, we discover that we're all in this alone.

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