“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.

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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