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Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4 
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Post Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
LOST MEMORY OF SKIN

Russell Banks

Part one, chapters; one, two, three and four



Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you are all beginning to read Lost Memory and will be joining us for the discussion.

If you have read any of Banks other books you may have noticed his use of alternate names for his protagonists. Other than the obvious, why do you think the Kid uses an alternate name?



Mon Jan 02, 2012 1:01 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
Thanks for the prompt Linda. I have cracked open Lost Memory of Skin but haven't got far yet. At first I thought that I had not read any Russell Banks before, but I have read 'The Sweet Hereafter' ... it was a while ago and I really don't remember if he used alternate names in that book.



Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:13 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
The character, “the Kid”, may be using this nick name to escape his identity or to re create himself. I’m sure it is difficult for anyone coming out of prison to take the persona of a convicted sex offender off like a suit and walk around his life as if he never committed the crime. However, society gives criminals their sentence and when they have finished, their debt to society is finished. Society doesn’t always except this, especially with sex offenders. Using the name, Kid, may be his way of starting fresh, where in society it is almost impossible.

As a reader the use of the nick name, Kid, allows me to identify with the character more easily than if he went by a formal name. By stripping the formal name off the character, he becomes more generic, more everyone. It makes putting yourself into the character’s shoes easier because the nick name makes the character seem a bit anonymous.

This is my first experience with Russell Bank and I am looking forward to getting deeper into the novel.



Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:26 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
I have my novel at home, but have not opened it yet. I will start tonight.



Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:43 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
I have read chapters 1 and 2 so far. In chapter 1 the Kid comes across as being very bewildered and unsure of himself as he tries to find out information from the library. You can't help feeling for him, no matter what it is he has done (and I think the reader can't help but think that whatever he did, it couldn't be that bad). In chapter 2 we find out a little more and why he likes to go by the Kid and not use his real name as he pretty much spells it out, that he wants to live on the surface of life without connections. Lindad, perhaps this is what you meant by the obvious? Maybe the not so obvious is a deep shame that he cannot face directly.

His pet, Iggy, fits in nicely with this surface life. His best friend is silent, asks no questions, but will always be there. Interesting about how their relationship started, with Iggy latching on and refusing to give up his grip. Perhaps that's what we all need, someone who will not give up on us.

Also in chapter 2, the Kid comes across as being a little smarter and more self reliant than he did in chapter 1. Maybe that was because of the setting, in chapter 1 he was out of his element and felt vulnerable, whereas in chapter 2 he was back to where he felt he belonged in a sense, a world where he could be no one and no one cared.



Last edited by realiz on Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:17 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
I'm still waiting for the book to come in from the library and will jump in as soon as it does.



Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:24 am
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chaptBers; 1-4
I noticed the alternate name as well. This character reminds me a lot of the one in Rule of the Bone, another Banks novel. I'm thinking it might have something to do with their search for identity. The Kid seems not to have a place in the world.



Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:31 am
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
Spoiler Alert

I think the nickname Kid is used to represent his innocence. Although he was convicted of a sex offense he still seems like a young boy who may have done something a little bad, but not too bad in the past.

I like the way the author shows us he is a sex offender without coming out and saying it. That scene really showed his fear of the real world. He lives in an insolated community under the Causeway. He has no place in the real world.

He still has his dreams as he thinks about how it would be if he were somewhere else. He seems to rely on these daydreams to escape his life under the Causeway.

His best friend is Iggy, the iguana. This makes him all the more isolated from other people. He talks with people of his community, but does not really engage them. He is very much a loner. He showed this tendencey early when as a boy, he lived in a tent in his yard, away from his family.

When Larry tries to get Kid to let him stay the night in Kid's tent, Kid at first refuses, but finally asks Rabbit, the old man what to do. It makes him seem younger when he does this. He is not as sure of himself as he likes to appear.

He is very much like a young boy all alone.



Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:25 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
When reading a book where the best friend of the central characters is an iguana (maybe his only real friend), I figured best to know a bit more about iguanas. My starting point is that iguanas, like other reptiles shed skin (don’t we all?) … but reptiles shed in a more conspicuous way and perhaps more frequently than other creatures. Given the title of the book, and a possible metaphorical link between losing skin and losing identity, living without identity and in anonymity under a Causeway using an assumed name … I looked up a couple of internet items on iguanas and shedding of skin.

Quite intriguing really. There is more to looking after an iguana than meets the eye, especially a constipated iguana. Also, the fact they change color when shedding, apparently they are more brightly colored once they shed their skin, I think might be significant …

“Iguana skin is made up of tiny scales that can become darker if exposed to sunlight. Young iguanas are pale green and have black-ringed tails. As they grow older, iguanas change to a more earthy color and may have dark vertical bars on the body and tail. Iguanas also shed their skin in pieces--not all areas may be ready to shed at the same time. …”

"Iguanas can become distant and even moody when shedding. Shedding is a normal occurance and will happen frequently during their lifetime. Don't be surprised if they turn a different color while shedding as well. As always be sure to have fresh food and water on hand. Iguana's can also become constipated easily during this process and it's a good idea to put them in a warm tub of water (not too much water - couple inches). The warm water will not only put moisture back into their skin but will stimulate their bowels. Be sure to stay in the bathroom though while your iguana is in the tub.”

Aside from observations about iguanas, I thought the fact that the offenders living under the Causeway had a semblance of social order quite interesting. They are not exactly a tightknit group but they have a need for order, even when living on the far margins of human society in the most desperate circumstances.



Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
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Given the title of the book, and a possible metaphorical link between losing skin and losing identity, living without identity and in anonymity under a Causeway using an assumed name


Good thought. Here it seems as if he has lost his identity but does not know what to replace it with. He is drifting in a land of no identity. Maybe, like the iguana, this is the moodiness of an unsettled state as he sheds his old skin and discovers the new? His day dreams of travel and having a place of his own shows that he longs for something more.

The fact that he turns to Rabbit for help in the decision to allow Larry to stay indicates that he does have some desire for a connection, for some kind of human relationship.

The picture that life under the Causeway paints is of a type of wilderness, a wilderness in the middle of a noisy chaotic city, and the tent and eating beans out of a can adds to this feeling.



Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:29 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
Life under the Causeway is very much a wilderness, a human wilderness, a very unsafe and unsettled place where no one would choose to be if they had other choices. Perhaps human relationship is possible in this environment but trust levels are very low so really its every man for himself, survival of the fittest, not unlike the animal kingdom. The Kid may have vague hopes of something better but I think he has no confidence that he could really achieve that 'something', just distant dreams over seemingly insurmountable barriers.



Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:51 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
At first I thought Banks was just using the nickname as a disguise so the character wouldn't feel so exposed, but after reading a few chapters I started to think that perhaps it was actually more of a description of the character. He seems, somehow, frozen in time. He is a case of arrested development, never having matured. He doesn't appear to have acquired a sense of where he belongs in the world.



Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:00 pm
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
Also, the use of the nickname makes us more sympathetic towards the Kid when it comes to sexuality. We can forgive a kid much more than we can forgive a man.



Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:49 am
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Post Re: Lost Memory of Skin, Prt. 1, chapters; 1-4
After these 4 chapters, did anybody pick up on WHY 'The Kid' was charged with this crime? The only thing I can see so far is he was watching porn on the computer.

And this mother of his? What mother tells her teenage boy she likes black men 'cause they have bigger sex organs? That's thoroughly irresponsible!

It's a good story, so far.



Mon Jan 23, 2012 1:42 am
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