SEARCHING FOR SURVIVORS: Fourteen Stories by Russell Banks


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Russell Banks has appeared recently in both the Foley and the O. Henry best-of-the-year collections--anthologies with an emphasis on the American mood. He hails from north of Boston and even though these fourteen stories are didactic first-person self-diagnoses, a sense of place is his strong point. The ruggedness of that countryside where it always seems to be winter is reflected in his forthrightness and clarity. The title story comes in two versions, posted like book ends for the other twelve. Survivors I refers to the mutinous crew who sent Henry Hudson adrift in the New World; Survivors II is the fragmented loveless family who can't even get together for the funeral of their seventeen-year-old son. That is how they all are here: anchorless and trying to get home in a country where rootlessness is the national identity. In three of these stories, the legend of Che Guevara serves as counterpoint to Banks' wandering orphans and their implacable bourgeois manner even in the face of murder or adultery. There are tentative political fables and flights toward the metaphysical, but what you'll remember is the sound of his voice, the rhythm of American speech patterns, as though he were seated beside you on a drive through the backwaters of New Hampshire.

Pub Date: May 14th, 1975
Publisher: Fiction Collective--dist. by Braziller