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American Spirits by Russell Banks
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American Spirits

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American Spirits by Russell Banks
Hardcover $28.00
Mar 05, 2024 | ISBN 9780593536773

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    Mar 05, 2024 | ISBN 9780593536773

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  • Mar 05, 2024 | ISBN 9780593825341

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“Banks is a master of mastery . . . If the residents of Sam Dent were merely stereotypes of a political movement, then American Spirits wouldn’t have the impressive heft that it does. Instead, they are, to a person, indelible characters, with lives full of meticulously observed details . . . [The stories in American Spirits] accomplish so much, so purposively with the brute mechanisms of plot and suspense. Once you read them, you won’t stop thinking of their unnerving violence and elegiac endings.”
— Casey Cep, The New Yorker

“What a beautiful farewell gift the great Russell Banks has left us in American Spirits. Better than anything I’ve read, this book gave me hope about our current political situation—it gave me a way to think of it that isn’t all despair. These three utterly compelling stories are so truthful about America as to be almost unbearable. They’re funny, frank, full of love and each of them delivers an epic punch, in its own flavor—they feel Shakespearean in their daring—in how fearlessly they exploit the dramatic space they’ve mapped out. (Several times while reading I found myself thinking: ‘My God, he’s going there.’) 

“American Spirits has a beautiful, elegiac sense; we feel the passing of time and the fading away of things, possibly even of the American experiment. But they’re also about rebirth; what looks like decline is only decline when seen through the limited lens of one human life. Banks’ view, in this, his last book, is vast, deeply in touch with the long arc of history. He accomplishes all of this in the classic way, by looking with interest and affection and acceptance at individuals, whom the writer has summoned out of the air and come to love. 
“I learned so much about storytelling and about our country reading these stories, and I finished the book full of gratitude that such a man, and a writer, as Russell Banks could have existed. We’ll miss him and, I expect, won’t see his like again.”
—George Saunders, author of Liberation Day

“Violence woven with politics and human foible was [Banks’s] hallmark . . . Banks artfully captures the precariousness of existence before existence turns tragic, the way feelings of masculinity get tangled up in that precarity, and how macho posturing only makes it worse . . . In Banks’s parcel of America, residents try to escape the past, but the past always has a way of getting back at us.”
—Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times

“Compelling narratives from this fine writer . . . All these stories include ruminations on the passage of time, changes and damage in the landscape, and the values and aspirations sustained from generation to generation. The tone in these passages is almost elegiac: hymns to a past when fewer wounds were self-inflicted.”
Kirkus, starred

“Banks’s stories are about fragile, everyday people whom, despite their resilience and strength, life still manages to break. An imaginatively constructed [book of linked tales] from a late master storyteller.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Elegant . . . As ever, the reader senses the confidence in Banks’s narrative voice. This is a welcome addition to the legacy of a master storyteller.”
Publishers Weekly

“The late Banks was our chief chronicler of the working class, the patron saint of the blue collar . . . Each tale [in American Spirits] bears the unmistakable imprint of a true literary giant, who will be dearly missed.”

“Russell Banks has always been a master at elevating the small calamities of everyday American life into full-blown tragedy, revealing all the dark ways our grief and despair can spill into something larger, more menacing, than we ever imagined. With American Spirits, Banks takes us to upstate New York with three connected stories of small-town life gone very wrong.”
—Lit Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2024”

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