Lost Memory of Skin

Russell Banks

Lost Memory of Skin

Suspended in a strangely modern-day version of limbo, a young man must create a life for himself in the wake of incarceration. Known only as the Kid, and on probation after doing time for a liaison with an underage girl, he is shackled to a GPS monitoring device and forbidden to live within 2,500 feet of anywhere children might gather. With nowhere else to go, the Kid takes up residence in a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders. Barely beyond childhood himself, the Kid is in many ways an innocent, trapped by impulses and foolish choices. Enter the Professor, a man who has built his own life on secrets and lies. A university sociologist of enormous size and intellect, he finds in the Kid the perfect subject for his research on homelessness and reoffending sex offenders. The two men forge a tentative partnership. But when the Professor's past resurfaces and threatens to destroy his carefully constructed world, the balance in the two men's relationship shifts. Suddenly, the Kid must reconsider everything he has come to believe, and choose what course of action to take when faced with a new kind of moral decision. 3.4 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Lost Memory of Skin

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 432
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication March 2012
ISBN 978-1846685767
Publisher Clerkenwell Press
 

Suspended in a strangely modern-day version of limbo, a young man must create a life for himself in the wake of incarceration. Known only as the Kid, and on probation after doing time for a liaison with an underage girl, he is shackled to a GPS monitoring device and forbidden to live within 2,500 feet of anywhere children might gather. With nowhere else to go, the Kid takes up residence in a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders. Barely beyond childhood himself, the Kid is in many ways an innocent, trapped by impulses and foolish choices. Enter the Professor, a man who has built his own life on secrets and lies. A university sociologist of enormous size and intellect, he finds in the Kid the perfect subject for his research on homelessness and reoffending sex offenders. The two men forge a tentative partnership. But when the Professor's past resurfaces and threatens to destroy his carefully constructed world, the balance in the two men's relationship shifts. Suddenly, the Kid must reconsider everything he has come to believe, and choose what course of action to take when faced with a new kind of moral decision.

The Reserve by Russell Banks

Reviews

The New York Times

Janet Maslin

Destined to be a canonical novel of its time. That is not to say it is without problems. It engages the reader in one long wrestling match. It is sometimes marred by condescension. But it delivers another of Mr. Banks’s wrenching, panoramic visions of American moral life, and this one very particular to the early 21st century.

25/09/2011

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The Times

Lionel Shriver

Fantastic. A proper page-turner, the novel is brave, involving, and well researched. The sole criticism I’d levy is that its title is weak — but any panicked author who’s ever been up a creek without a title as the catalogue goes to print will empathise. Don’t let four dodgy words put you off when the other 150,000 are great ... Dickensian in the most modern sense: taking on a dirty little secret of contemporary life, shining a hard light on an ostracised population, people who are at once perpetrators and victims.

03/03/2012

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The Washington Post

Sue Miller

Banks is in Flannery O’Connor/Graham Greene territory here, trying to convey the spiritual using materials of the ordinary. For anyone working this way, there is the temptation to make too explicit the allegorical meaning of events, and Banks succumbs to that temptation ... Still, like so much else Banks has written, this novel is ambitious and often compelling.

07/10/2011

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The Financial Times

Adrian Turpin

… troubling and in places surprisingly funny … Everything about the Professor is larger than life, and the theatricality of the character, combined with his habit of grandstanding, occasionally totters into caricature. The same can’t be said of the Kid. The novel sings brightest when it gives itself up to his guileless stream-of-consciousness, and is at its most persuasive and tender as it charts his growing self-awareness.

02/03/2012

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The Independent

James Urquhart

It reads well but remains curiously unsatisfying, perhaps because Banks's evident skills at character and plot do not fully flourish here. Neither thriller nor social anatomy, Lost Memory of Skin reprises some of the author's interests in marginal existences without allowing the reader enough purchase on his subject.

16/03/2012

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The Sunday Times

Edmund Gordon

The perspective often wobbles. We’re never told the Kid’s real name, even when he’s forced to give it to other characters (policemen, social workers and so on), and it’s hard at these points not to become conscious of the novel’s artifice. Similarly, the time Banks takes to reveal the Kid’s crime is irritating and tricksy.

25/03/2012

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The Guardian

Wayne Gooderham

... this is a novel extremely pertinent to our times. Unfortunately, it is also poorly plotted, with a baggy, unfocused narrative, and its dramatic tension is severely undermined by a blurb that gives away far too much of the plot. But it is also admirably non-judgmental in its sympathetic portrayal of the Kid, and Banks writes movingly on the loneliness of addiction.

08/02/2013

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