"The great enigma of human life is not suffering but affliction."-Simone Weil
From the author of "The Sweet Hereafter" and "Cloudsplitter," an intense and powerful novel about small town life, fathers and sons, and the violence inherent in men. Narrated by the protagonist's brother, it plays about like a mystery; Wade Whitehouse has disappeared and his story, involving his abusive, alcoholic father, his ex-wife and daughter, and a hunting accident that he thinks is murder, is related. The rural poverty of a small New England town is a setting that Banks has in common with Richard Russo, but Russo finds the humor amidst the defeat, while Banks finds tragedy. Made into a film with Nick Nolte, James Coburn, and Willem Defoe.
Banks is a masterful writer, and this is a powerful, though bleak, exposition of economic frustration and masculine repression in a world of blue-collar work in rural New Hampshire. Banks' empathy can create sympathetic characters out of virtually anyone. My only criticism is his use of the narrative voice--a character in the novel, who is not actually present for 99% of the story.
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