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Family Life [Paperback]

Russell Banks
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 31 2024

In Family Life, Russell Banks's first novel, he transforms the dramas of domesticity into the story of a royal family in a mythical contemporary kingdom. Life inside this kingdom includes the king (dubbed "the Hearty" or "the Bluff"), who squeals angrily as is his wont; the queen, who, while pondering the mirror in her chambers, decides to write a book; three adolescent princes who are, respectively, a superb wrestler, a fanatical sports car driver, and a sullen drunk. Then there are the mysterious Green Man with a thing for princes; the Loon, who lives in a tree house designed by Christopher Wren; and a whole slew of murders, mayhem, coups, debauches, world tours, and love and loss and laughter.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

With this revised version of a 1975 novella, acclaimed novelist Banks (Continental Drift) lampoons the American family in a wonderfully funny range of literary styles. Family Life opens in the macho mode of the tall tale cum horse opera, replete with a patrilineal catalogue of brawling heroes who indulge in their boys-will-be-boys exploits. With marriage, a man gains the rank of royalty. King Egress the Hearty, embarrassed now about past escapades with his hippie buddy Loon, lives in an American hometown with his "right-on queen." But she cavorts with the wine steward. The princes Orgone, Dread and Egress Jr. get into teenage scrapes, hunting girls and cougar, taking hash and coke, drinking and dying. When the Queen, aka Naomi Ruth, writes her own novel, rendered here in a chapter titled "Remember Me to Camelot," she rephrases events in a tone of sentimental confessional relish. She tells about her cheerleader's crush on football captain Rex, their marriage, mobile home and three boys. But once Rex goes off to Vietnam, Naomi quickly gets liberated. How Rex and Naomi fare afterward emerges as a series of blase encounters in increasingly glitzy places. Exuberant and irreverent, Family Life bares a knife-edge of social satire.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Banks writes with trembling knowledge, conviction, and authenticity." -- --Chicago Tribune --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best, but fun nevertheless... April 11 2000
Format:Paperback
Challenging, experimental, satirical, fun. These are probably the best adjectives to describe Mr. Banks' first book. I definitley feel that this novel is not as well done as many of his other books, yet Family Life provides a unique and philosophical experiment in the writing and reading of novels not seen too often. The main problem I had with this book was "The Tradition of the Bloody Orange - A Paradigm." This was a page-long metaphor which was a little too vague for me to be sure of my translation. I believe it was discussing the pain of birth, life and the relief or release of death. If someone who understood this could please explain their interpretation, it would be greatly appreciated.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I don't get it June 22 1998
Format:Paperback
I read this book and I can't figure out what Banks was trying to say. I was thoughouly confused for days wondering what was going on. I would love for someone to tell me what it was that I read, becasue I certainly don't know.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Indefinable Jan. 22 2010
By JustinWrites - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The first novel by Banks, author of "Cloudsplitter" and "The Sweet Hereafter," was published in 1974 and strikes me as utterly indefinable. Is it allegorical, satirical, the experimental work piece of a barely-graduated English major? I'm not quite sure, but this story of a royal family and the kingdom that they inhabit feels like a big mess to me. There are interesting moments, and colorful characters, but most of the action struck me as inexplicable and nonsensical just for the sake of chaos and experimentation, not for any grander reason. Banks is a talented writer, but the shifts between Greek tragedy, Odyssey-like pilgrimmages, modern-day drug-speak, abrupt and graphic gay sex, and the sudden insertion of a short novel written by the wife of an M.I.A. soldier in Vietnam (the same character who appears as the queen in the "real" novel) just left me befuddled and cold. The short sections within the chapters make it a brisk read, but brevity doesn't necessarily make for clarity, or for a pleasurable narrative ride. Great cover photo, though.
5.0 out of 5 stars experimental can be fun Jan. 5 2005
By maestrotmbg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Though I loved it this novella is not for everyone. Don't go in expecting "Hereafter" because this is more about the art of language and imagery than some of Banks' page turning plots. I reccomend it to those interested in literature as art because that is where this book shines.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not one of his best, but fun nevertheless... April 10 2000
By Jason Burger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Challenging, experimental, satirical, fun. These are probably the best adjectives to describe Mr. Banks' first book. I definitley feel that this novel is not as well done as many of his other books, yet Family Life provides a unique and philosophical experiment in the writing and reading of novels not seen too often. The main problem I had with this book was "The Tradition of the Bloody Orange - A Paradigm." This was a page-long metaphor which was a little too vague for me to be sure of my translation. I believe it was discussing the pain of birth, life and the relief or release of death. If someone who understood this could please explain their interpretation, it would be greatly appreciated.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I don't get it June 21 1998
By Mister T's Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book and I can't figure out what Banks was trying to say. I was thoughouly confused for days wondering what was going on. I would love for someone to tell me what it was that I read, becasue I certainly don't know.
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