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Well now, nothing can get you more into the mirthfully joyous Christmas spirit than reading Russell Banks' sorta-short story collection/sorta-novella, "Success Stories". After all, what could make you feel cheerier than reading about how inevitably dreary and disappointing life is?I've read Banks before, so I wasn't exactly surprised at how glum his little world was, but it definitly stands out as a defining quality of this collection. I call it a sorta-collection because many of the stories are...
“One of the most difficult things to say to another person is I hope you will love me. Yet that is what we all want to say to one another—to our children, to our parents and mates, to our friends and even to strangers” (36).“…walked straight down the hill from the eighteenth-century brick dormitories and classroom buildings to the wide boulevard below, where huge, neoclassical fraternity houses lounged beneath high, ancient elms” (50).“…and she was wailing, a high, unbroken keening sort of sound...
Read Banks' "Angel on the Roof" instead as most of these stories are there plus many others.
Exploring the ordinary... successfully.With the exception of one or two stories, this collection holds together beautifully. Titled ironically, Success Stories, one wonders if just making it through each day in the face of bad luck, poor decisions, misfortune and chronic depression makes the protagonists candidates for success. The writing style is clear, concise, and poetic. I can certainly visualize the characters’ lives as they weave in and out of a web of ordinariness that is so eloquently d...
misleading title a lot of these characters are actually quite unsuccesful
I always seem to read Banks's books in the winter, and somehow the bleak outlook of his stories and novels is something of an anodyne to the insane nostalgia and bittersweet banquets of the holiday season. Success Stories alternates between Banks's naturalism in his Painter family stories of mid-century, working class American life, and some fables that take place in Latin ghettos and Korean villages. Banks should stick with his own milieu, because these strange fables just don't work.
Not my favorite of Bank's work, (compared to Rule of the Bone which I adored), but a few of the stories were well worth the read- I felt like I was seeing Banks from a much earlier place in his life- some stories I might have skipped over, but I always feel compelled to give a writer's work my full attention... a dark melancholy covers so many of these tales- just when you think something might go well for a character, sigh... things fall apart....
Painfully tragic. Some of the stories don't seem to fit in with the others that are vignettes from the life of a male protagonist from age 12 onward. They are good stories, but seem like added filler.
I found this book on the shelf of an extrememly well read roommate and devoured it . I had heard the author read "Sarah Cole: a type of love story" on "This American Life" and was hooked on Russell Banks. It's the only book I never returned to that roommates bookshelf.
“Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story” is my favorite (recommended by PH). He uses two points of view. Alternates between first and third—third person to distance narrator from the awful way he treats Sarah, first person to express his sorrow, his shame. Excellent.
Read this collection of earlier stories after reading Banks' newest collection. These are not as polished as the newer ones, but their rawness is appealing too. He writes beautifully.
I haven't read this collection yet, but "Sarah Cole: A Type of Love Story" is one of the better short stories in the universe.
hard fellow. good writer.
One whole star is for "Sarah Cole" and "My Mother's Memoirs..." which are both beautiful and complex. The rest of the stories are clunky, obvious, and self-indulgent, or just hardly register.