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Affliction Paperback – Sep 29 1998
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If Russell Banks hadn't become a writer, he thinks he would have wound up stabbed to death in a barroom brawl. He is the son of a two-fisted, drunken New England plumber, and the grief of fatherly combat resonates through his work like the background radiation of the big bang. Banks became a violently drinking plumber himself--and then a Pulitzer Prize-nominated Princeton literary giant and one of the luckiest Oscar-buzzed writers in Hollywood history.
Affliction transmutes Banks's painful past into fiction. His divorced protagonist, Wade Whitehouse, 41, is imprisoned by fate in Lawford, New Hampshire, a hell frozen over. He digs wells for chump change, lives in a trailer, drinks, and alienates his daughter by dragging her to a miserable Halloween costume party. In two weeks' time, Wade demolishes his pitiable hopes of family happiness, drawn into a rigorously plausible series of disastrous deaths. In flashbacks to his Dad-abused youth, we see how Wade wound up such a Dostoyevskian clown.
Banks has a mind of winter: when Wade sees his dead parent, the scene unfolds with the cold logic of ice-crystal formation. The story is narrated by Wade's kid brother, the family's sole escapee to college, in a cool, distanced way. Both brothers contain aspects of Banks, but each breaks free of autobiography. This is one haunting novel. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Divorced, inept, confused and stubborn Wade Whitehouse, harrowed by snow and bone-freezing cold for the several days of the novel's duration, is afflicted with a nostalgic, romantic streak. Wade's dream of marrying Margie, a goodhearted waitress, and making a home for his angry daughter Jill, slowly erodes. PW called this a "masterful novel."
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Wade Whitehouse is a large man, with strength, sex appeal and a wound racing through him like the Mississippi and all its tributaries. His tale is told through his brother, the questionable survivor, who went to college, got out, has a career, and isn't a blackout drunk. There is the sister turned evangelical Christian, with her own frightening, crazy children. There are the ghosts of the two other brothers, dead together in some offensive in Nam. They too, haunt the bizarre story, a mystery, a murder, and the climax of a legacy.
My friends in Maine were simply out of their minds over Banks, and out of respect from these Chicagoan, Wisconsin transplants whose art awakenings I had shared, I entered into these readings seriously.Read more ›
The book is about how Wade has to cope with his ex-wife, his lover, his bosses, his colleagues, a murder and his father. He's kind of policeman, but no one takes him seriously. Wade is a bit slow in thinking, but he's not really dumb.
The book is not about the murder, really. It's not a thriller or a whodunit. It's a study about man who nevertheless how bad his life is going, he still thinks he can get it on. It's this hope, which makes this book so sad.
The book is very sad, at most in scenes when Wade gets treated by other people and when he just can't handle it. It's sad to see how impossible it's for him to take care of his daughter. She doesn't like him and that's hard to take.
Nevertheless this book is well-written and very emotional, it's a bit slow. Not much happens, and I'm not talking of more shoot-outs and murder. It's just a book which takes a while to read. But that's okay, because it's worth doing so.
AFFLICTION follows the last few weeks in the life of Wade Whitehouse, a small-town police officer, plow driver, and crossing guard, who mysteriously disappears after an act of brutal violence. As related by his brother Rolfe, Wade is an intelligent, deeply emotional man who has let life lead him to his present position. Instead of the dreams of youth he once possessed, he is now darkly cynical, having been divorced twice from the same woman, with a daughter who is slowly coming to hate his intrusive presence. He does not see himself as cynical, however; He remains deeply hopeful, and cannot bring himself to understand why his plans unerringly end up as tragedy.
As the story progresses, we grow to truly understand Wade's motivations, and we despair that he cannot see the folly of his increasing paranoia. His disturbing upbringing, under a father who increasingly becomes violent himself, lends an air of melancholy to Wade's depression and growing fits of rage. His inadequacy as a father, his impotence as a figure of authority in the community, speeds him ever faster into ruin, yet he remains unwilling to let go of any scrap of salvation he can grab onto. In this case, it is an accidental death that Wade is reluctant to let go as such, regarding it as a holy grail, an avenue towards eventual redemption.Read more ›
These twin compulsions turn out to be a lever with which Wade can pry open his hemmed in life and assert power for once. But the exercise of power and the awakening of self carry dangers which Wade is ill equipped to confront and tragedy lurks around the corner.
I liked this book much better than I expected to; the movie ads seem to promise merely another domestic abuse fiesta, but that story line is really somewhat peripheral. Wade's struggle to gain some control over his life is nearly heroic and we root for him top succeed. But Banks piles on such melodramatics that we anticipate that he is doomed.
There's also another weakness, and a more significant one. The story is narrated by Wade's brother in such an omniscient manner that it becomes distracting. You continually find yourself saying, how does he know that fact or know how that person felt.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I just didn't entre. Kept reading every night for week hoping at one point I will enjoy. Quite for now dont if I will get back to it.Published on Nov. 14 2013 by toulu
One of the finest novels in the last 25 years. The most convincing and natural dialogue I have ever read. Read morePublished on May 6 2002 by Nifflefoot
dude, this book was rad. it was so funny when the little girl cries because her dad of her dad beat her dad. Read morePublished on April 24 2002
There are a lot of books out there by "cowboy poets" or sort of macho-ish writers. "Affliction" has no such pretensions, but it's more austere, rugged, and... Read morePublished on Dec 25 2001
Russell Bank's books are always good. This one is top notch: more Post Modern alienation at its best.Published on Nov. 25 2001 by LakeEleni
Why do bad things happen to good people? Because their parents (stink). At least that's one of the messages that Russell Banks conveys in this dark tale of past abuses causing... Read morePublished on Nov. 17 2001 by RL
You're not going to like any of the men in Affliction, but you will care about them nonetheless. This is an excellent book that's not afraid to show real relationships and embarass... Read morePublished on Sept. 11 2001 by Angela
dude, this boook is cool. i liked it from the start. it was cool how the dad of the little girl's dad is crazy but he is cool. it is awesome stuff when he beats his son. Read morePublished on May 6 2001