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Russell Banks's collection of short stories features numerous O. Henry-like plot twists. The problem is that many of these twists are completely implausible ("Blue") or, if believable, visible from a mile off ("Former Marine," "The Green Door"). The writing is serviceable, but rarely truly arresting.
This is my first Russell Banks book. In this book of short stories Mr. Banks seems to use almost a formula or a common methodology in each of these stories.
I was fully engaged in the plot and characters. The prose rich, the plots detailed and interesting.
A few of the stories: Connie is a former Marine who raised his three sons by himself after his wife left the family. He is now unemployed and possibly broke after a lifetime of hard work. He sees himself as Father and Marine and has taught his sons to do the right thing. Each of his sons work in law enforcement and the problem is that Connie is desperate. He refuses to be dependent on his sons; he resorts to the unthinkable.
Another story is about a couple with two daughters who divorce and share custody, their old beloved dog becomes the glue that holds them all together still.
And in another story set in Miami a woman is caught and terrorized by an angry guard dog in a used car lot after hours.
In "Snowbirds", one of my favorite stories in the book, a friend comes down south to console and help her newly widowed best friend. The two women begin to question the status quo of their lives.
I've outlined only a few of the stories, each left me somewhat empty, wondering.This in and of itself may not be bad, but I needed/wanted something else or more.
I want to give both 5 stars and 2 stars, because in many ways each story was really good. So therefore I'm sorry that I cannot write a more concise review, obviously this book has left me conflicted.
I look forward to other reviews
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