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Russell Banks

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ENTERTAINMENT
November 22, 2013 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
When we think of Russell Banks, what comes to mind are the novels: "Continental Drift," "The Sweet Hereafter," "Cloudsplitter," "Rule of the Bone. " These are ambitious books, dealing with politics and history, the aftermath of tragedy, the specter of drugs and sexual abuse. For me, though, Banks is equally noteworthy as a writer of short fiction, and not just because in the early years of his career, he matched collections to full-length efforts, nearly one-to-one. No, it's that in his stories, Banks focuses on smaller moments between parents and children, wives and husbands, the domestic dramas out of which we build our inner lives.
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ENTERTAINMENT
November 22, 2013 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
When we think of Russell Banks, what comes to mind are the novels: "Continental Drift," "The Sweet Hereafter," "Cloudsplitter," "Rule of the Bone. " These are ambitious books, dealing with politics and history, the aftermath of tragedy, the specter of drugs and sexual abuse. For me, though, Banks is equally noteworthy as a writer of short fiction, and not just because in the early years of his career, he matched collections to full-length efforts, nearly one-to-one. No, it's that in his stories, Banks focuses on smaller moments between parents and children, wives and husbands, the domestic dramas out of which we build our inner lives.
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BOOKS
June 22, 1986 | Richard Eder
Quite steadily, and sometimes with powerful art, Russell Banks has been devising fictional varieties of the "this is poison" warnings on cigarette advertisements. Our society's message about an affable world of clean microdots and expanding consumption--the equivalent of the pool-side set blithely puffing away--has lethal side-effects, he tells us. Cigarette ads carry labels; our latter-day, easy-going social gospel comes without one; so here is Banks.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 2, 2011 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
It's early on a brisk morning in September, and Russell Banks is standing in front of the Marriott Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, smoking his first cigarette of the day. In a few hours, he'll be onstage at the Brooklyn Book Festival, across Adams Street in Borough Hall Plaza, but at the moment he's a little tired - the result of a late night with his friend, novelist Paul Auster, a longtime Brooklynite. Still, at 71, Banks looks fit, hair and beard white and close-cropped, eyes sharp behind a pair of frameless glasses that sit like windows on his face.
BOOKS
May 21, 1995 | RICHARD EDER
Trying to tell the story of a modern Huckleberry Finn, with present-day counterparts for Jim, Tom Sawyer, the raft and other situations and characters as well, Russell Banks takes some awful risks. Several he manages admirably, several he flunks, and the largest he ignores at his peril. "Persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished," Mark Twain wrote at the start of his masterpiece.
BOOKS
September 1, 1991 | RICHARD EDER
Russell Banks has used a small town's response to tragedy to write a novel of compelling moral suspense. On a snowy morning, the school bus serving Sam Dent, a community at the edge of the Adirondack Mountains, skids off the highway, tumbles down an incline and plunges into the water of an abandoned quarry. Ten children die; others are severely injured.
NEWS
October 17, 1991 | ELIZABETH MEHREN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
You've seen the stories. You may have cringed--or wept outright--as you thought of young lives snuffed out by some awful, angry error of fate. You've felt those stories haunt you and wondered about their aftermaths. This is what happened, anyway, when novelist Russell Banks found his attention riveted by news reports in 1989 of a school bus crash in rural Texas that killed 14 children. Banks kept dwelling on the aftermath. How did the families carry on in the face of such a tragedy?
NEWS
June 21, 1995 | BETTIJANE LEVINE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
What do you do with a kid gone wrong? A kid who was good when he was small but now lies, steals, cheats, manipulates, ditches school, talks like a gangster and looks like a bum? A kid who won't listen and doesn't care--who causes such grief that sometimes you secretly wish he would disappear, just leave home so you wouldn't have to wonder and worry every night?
ENTERTAINMENT
February 14, 2008
1. RUSSELL BANKS, ROMANCE NOVELIST? In his latest book, Russell Banks ventures away from his usual gritty blue-collar milieu to bring us a love story from the world of privilege. Set just before World War II, "The Reserve" depicts the stormy relationship between a wealthy, mentally unstable socialite (inspired by a notoriously troublesome mistress of Ernest Hemingway) and a famous, married artist.
BOOKS
January 27, 2008 | Sven Birkerts, Sven Birkerts is the author of, most recently, "The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again."
AS John Fowles did in "The French Lieutenant's Woman," Russell Banks arrests his reader's attention in "The Reserve" straight off with the image of a mysterious young woman staring out at open water, though it's not Fowles' briny Atlantic but the considerably smaller expanse of an Adirondacks lake -- which is nonetheless large enough for Jordan Groves to land his pontoon airplane.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 9, 2004 | Walter Abish, Special to The Times
In "The Darling," Russell Banks depicts with considerable empathy the turbulent recent history of the Republic of Liberia. Banks, author most recently of "Cloudsplitter," a portrait of the fiery abolitionist John Brown, thrives on conflict. Nevertheless, the real subject of his latest novel isn't that chaotic sub-Saharan country but the emotional terrain crisscrossed by its white American protagonist, Hannah Musgrave, in pursuit of her identity.
BOOKS
June 11, 2000 | SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS
THE ANGEL ON THE ROOF Stories By Russell Banks; HarperCollins: 506 pp., $27.50 "His story was like a prayer," Russell Banks writes of a lie his estranged father once told him, "like all good stories, but it went unanswered. The one to whom he prayed--not me, but an angel on the roof--was not listening." We tell stories to make people love us, he writes, hoping that some angel will make them believable.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 30, 1998 | JACK MATHEWS, FOR THE TIMES
Novelist Russell Banks, filmmaker Paul Schrader and small-town New England cop Wade Whitehouse are soul mates in a tortured hell on Earth. Each of these middle-aged men is haunted--in ways either real or imagined, physical or psychological--by violence, and each has devoted much of his life to trying to fathom his relationship with his father.
BOOKS
March 8, 1998 | HENRY MAYER, Henry Mayer is the author of "A Son of Thunder: Patrick Henry and the American Republic" and the forthcoming "All on Fire," a biography of William Lloyd Garrison
Of all the cultural puzzlements I encountered when moving as a seventh-grader from the Bronx to eastern North Carolina in 1953, the most curious was the way my new friends and neighbors would say that they couldn't get the "John Brown'd" thing to work or that they would be "John Brown'd" before they'd do something they didn't like.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 14, 2008
1. RUSSELL BANKS, ROMANCE NOVELIST? In his latest book, Russell Banks ventures away from his usual gritty blue-collar milieu to bring us a love story from the world of privilege. Set just before World War II, "The Reserve" depicts the stormy relationship between a wealthy, mentally unstable socialite (inspired by a notoriously troublesome mistress of Ernest Hemingway) and a famous, married artist.
NEWS
June 21, 1995 | BETTIJANE LEVINE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
What do you do with a kid gone wrong? A kid who was good when he was small but now lies, steals, cheats, manipulates, ditches school, talks like a gangster and looks like a bum? A kid who won't listen and doesn't care--who causes such grief that sometimes you secretly wish he would disappear, just leave home so you wouldn't have to wonder and worry every night?
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