Lost Memory of Skin

Lost Memory of Skin

eBook - 2011
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This is a novel that illuminates the shadowed edges of contemporary American culture with startling and unforgettable results. Suspended in a strangely modern day version of limbo, the young man at the center of this morally complex new novel must create a life for himself in the wake of incarceration. Known in his new identity 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 under a south Florida causeway, in a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders. Barely beyond childhood himself, the Kid, despite his crime, is in many ways an innocent, trapped by impulses and foolish choices he himself struggles to comprehend. 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 recidivism among convicted sex offenders. The two men forge a tentative partnership, the Kid remaining wary of the Professor's motives even as he accepts the counsel and financial assistance of the older man. When the camp beneath the causeway is raided by the police, and later, when a hurricane all but destroys the settlement, the Professor tries to help the Kid in practical matters while trying to teach his young charge new ways of looking at, and understanding, what he has done. 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. In this novel the author examines the indistinct boundaries between our intentions and actions. It probes the zeitgeist of a troubled society where zero tolerance has erased any hope of subtlety and compassion, a society where isolating the offender has perhaps created a new kind of victim.
Published: New York : HarperCollins, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780062096739
Characteristics: 1 online resource (416 p.)


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Mar 04, 2018

This is a thoughtful portrayal of men condemned to limbo - first by their own acts and then by our society; evidently inspired by a look out the window & into a subterranean world. (I've always said Florida's not all it's cracked up to be.) My book club read it & had a thought provoking conversation about Banks' style and many current events. I must admit struggling to finish, as the voice of the narrator altered 3/4 of the way through - almost as if Mr Banks handed it off to a writer and said, "wrap this up, will you?"

Feb 19, 2018

Interesting perspective of a life that one wouldn't fully appreciate unless put in the situation of the main character. Banks obviously went through a great deal of research to be able to describe homeless life and its woes with the amount of detail that the book portrays. Great character development allowing the reader to have the ability to empathize with a character that one would usually ostracize in society. Brings about topics such as labeling, social acceptance, every day worries in homeless life, how to plan for a future as a registered sex offender and learning to trust in a world where trust is an unaffordable luxury. I enjoy the character of the Professor and his commitment to the Kid. In many ways, I understand the Kid better through the eyes of the Professor. However, his story line is shaky and confusing and nowhere near as detailed or easy to relate to as the Kid. I wonder if Banks purposely did this so that the reader would empathize with the Kid more than the Professor, playing off an idea that the criminal is the victim and the person that should be the most socially-acceptable is actually the criminal and much harder to relate to. This also speaks volumes about how all "regular people" can be one bad choice away from becoming a criminal, but people who seem like they would be the most virtuous are actually the criminals. Overall, great main themes and colourful description of a heavy topic. However, slow plot line and an ending that seemed rushed and inconclusive.

FW_librarian Jun 19, 2015

I can't think of a better book to help understand the complexity of a young man's life after being convicted and released back into society branched as a sex offender. Where does he go? Where does he live? Who are his real friends? Is the professor who befriends him a real friend or does he have an ulterior motive or personal reason for imposing himself on the young man's situation? Excellent for book group discussion.

Starling16 Feb 25, 2015

Compelling and empathetic writing. Due to the heavy subject matter I was apprehensive about reading this book, but from the first line I was completely drawn in. It is very engaging. The only criticism I have is that the character of the Professor sometimes doesn't seem very believable or real to me. But The Kid, the environment he has to survive in, and his inner thought world are masterfully portrayed.

Jul 19, 2012

Russell Banks has given yet another compelling novel with thought out characters unlike any before who don't fit into any category; he also constructs a detailed setting. An engaging, yet disturbing story given the subject matter, which Mr. Banks is unafraid to breech (one can't help but wonder what his research process was) and I wasn't sure what to think about whom. Took me out of my comfort zone and, as is posed in the novel, left me asking what are my beliefs and how in turn do I make choices based on them.

Jun 25, 2012

Mixed feelings about this one. Banks does a great job of building empathy for the Kid, and the Professor is a well-drawn, interesting enigmatic character. But overall, the plot was lacking and I didn't feel that the story hung together all that well at the end.

Feb 20, 2012

A fine story of an offender--and victim--whose encounter with the eccentric Professor forces him to start making choices in how to live his life.

DesPlainesReaders Oct 31, 2011

Russell Banks has taken the most unsympathetic of characters - a sex offender- and woven a tale of how society ostracizes its criminals, and how these outcasts can find their way back to redemption. P.S. Is the internet the new snake that tempts us and gets us thrown out of the Garden of Eden? WeAreSpartacus/lascorpia

patienceandfortitude Oct 31, 2011

This novel is an excellent read and addresses many thought-provoking issues. Is our justice system truly just to those who are branded as sex offenders? What is the result of the easy accessibility of pornography in our culture -- particularly on the Internet? What does it say about our society that we are so liberal about sex in advertising, television, the internet, clothing, and music, yet at the same time we can be puritanical? The issues raised are very timely and the story is a page turner. Highly recommended.

debwalker Oct 27, 2011

Heard Banks being interviewed on CBC. This sounds fascinating.

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Oct 23, 2011

Maggie2356 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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