“The Reserve” by Russell Banks

reserve.jpgPerhaps familiarity really does breed contempt-I so looked forward to reading Banks’ new novel about my favorite part of the world, the High Peaks of the Adirondacks that I suppose I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Banks beautifully recreates a landscape and truthfully conveys the class distinctions that define the way of life among these majestic mountains almost to this day. I just happened to find the plot somewhat forced and the best of his characters not wholly realized.

Jordan Groves, loosely based on artist Rockwell Kent, is a fine character who when it counts receives emotional short shrift from the author. Banks’ female protagonist Vanessa Cole inhabits a persona whose femme fatale appeal left me cold .Is she a victim, mentally ill or a sociopath?-Banks leaves it all ambiguous. Groves’ wife Alicia and a “local”, Hubert St Germain are the most fascinating characters that I came to care about though Banks uses them primarily as devices to advance his somewhat outlandish plot.

Then it all ends rather abruptly- I know first hand that this rich landscape and these mountains hold many stories and many secrets. This book only begins to tell just one of them.

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One thought on ““The Reserve” by Russell Banks

  1. I’m reading this now and am having a very hard time warming up to any of the characters. Alicia is definitely my favorite and Hubert has just been introduced. I can’t decide whether to keep going or stop and pick another book to read. I do sort of feel compelled to keep reading and at least find out how the story ends.

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