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Foregone: A Novel de Russell Banks

Foregone: A Novel (edição: 2021)

de Russell Banks (Autor)

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518394,370 (3.72)2
Título:Foregone: A Novel
Autores:Russell Banks (Autor)
Informação:Ecco (2021), 320 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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Foregone de Russell Banks


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I did finish this but it put me to sleep mid listen each night. Perhaps I should have read it. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Apr 18, 2021 |
Two of my favorite writers, Richard Russo and Russell Banks, are feeling their advanced ages in recent nostalgic, look-back novels, which is a bit sad for their readers who aren't quite ready to call a halt to a yearning for new adventures. In this one, renowned Canadian filmmaker Leonard Fife is dying of cancer and now the subject of a documentary by one of his former students. Leo sees this as his chance to redeem himself and to show his wife and work partner of forty years, Emma, that he truly loves her, something he has been unable to feel or express during their marriage. Instead, his on-camera recital of several key events in his life, including a meetup with Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in Boston in the early '60s, turns into a confession of wrongs committed against parents, ex-wives, abandoned children, and friends. Leo's wife Emma denies the truth of much of what he claims he's telling her for the first time, and says he's conflating imaginary events with the reality of years together. This puts the reader in a spot - who's telling the truth here ? - but it doesn't really matter, as the stories are rambling, filled with pathos, fear, and a longing for escape, and Leo finally does achieve peace with himself. ( )
  froxgirl | Mar 20, 2021 |
"Foregone," by Russell Banks was a novel that pulled me deep into its story and characters with some truly outstanding writing. I had forgotten just how good he can write, and this story had similarities to recent events in my life that pulled me in even deeper. It’s the story of Leonard Fife, a Canadian documentary filmmaker who is in his seventies, as he’s being filmed and interviewed about his life and his work. The film crew had had a very different film in mind, but the elderly man’s advanced cancer has extremely weakened his body and memory, and made for a free-flowing experience that may have been factual or not, and rarely revealed any straight-line narrative. The interviewer found no answers to some questions, and many answers to questions never asked. Fife is dying and confined to a wheelchair, so they roll him into place and kill all the lighting around him. In that surrounding darkness is Fife’s wife, Emma, and the film crew. His interviewer is Malcolm MacLeod, one of his former star student. The interview all comes down to what maybe some truly memorable and revealing recollections, or the very confused thoughts of a man just days away from his death.

Here are a couple of quotes from the book that have stuck in my mind.

“There is nothing left of life now, except what’s in his brain and the fluids that pass through his bowels and bladder and the cancer cells that are devouring his bones and flesh, munching his organs, shutting them down one by one.”

“Other people’s memories of him will hang around for a while, of course, for a few months, anyhow, and maybe, for Emma, even years. But not his own memories. The second his cancerous body shuts his brain down, his memories will be vaporized.”

Okay, allow me one more quote, one that my late wife Vicky and I acted out countless times in our decades together.

“Since the moment he first saw her, Fife has loved looking directly at Emma. His gaze made her nervous and a little embarrassed, as if he were making a studio portrait of it, and she would look down and away and say, Please, stop staring at me.”

Fife talks about his connection to Vermont through both Goddard College and his most memorable film being about the draft evaders crossing the Canadian border for sanctuary during the Vietnam war. The book has many major themes: figuring out what exactly love is during the different stages of one’s life, dealing with the betrayals of others and even your own, gaining redemption for past wrongs, and the extremely fluid nature of memory.

I read almost all of this book on a beautiful sunny day, while sitting on a favorite bench under a grand old tree, with some fine melancholy music (thanks go to Phoebe Bridgers) playing on my headphones. Between the story, my history, and a glorious day, this was a positively surreal time reading my favorite book of this young year. I found myself feeling tears running down my sunny cheeks on many occasions. The book was a mesmerizing personal experience in that the man dying of cancer represented both my late wife and how I sometimes see myself. This story seemed to fly right into my face time after time, as it felt so much like what I’ve felt countless times. This is one very powerful book that shows Banks at his very best. ( )
  jphamilton | Mar 13, 2021 |
Banks, who is himself 80 years old, tells the story of a 77-year-old documentary filmmaker and teacher who is dying of cancer. Former students now have him in front of the camera as they record his life story. Leo Fife’s thoughts are muddled from the cancer, his muddled memory, and pain medications, so he’s not an entirely reliable narrator. At first, the transitioning between the present time and past times seems awkward, but as the story moves forward it becomes more and more understandable. This is an interesting look and aging, failing memory and peeling back the layers to reveal what is true about reputation. Putting the action on April Fools Day seems to have meaning to me, because as I age my memory seems to be playing more April Fools jokes on me. ( )
  brangwinn | Mar 2, 2021 |
Foregone by Russell Banks is a highly recommended novel where a dying man shares memories from the early part of his life.

"Except for his memories, all living traces of his past, all the witnesses and evidence, have been erased by years of betrayal, abandonment, divorce, annulment, flight, and exile, eaten by time the way his body is being eaten by cancer."

Canadian American Leonard Fife is dying from cancer in Montreal. Now in his late seventies, he fled American and went to Canada many years earlier to avoid serving in Vietnam. He became a lauded documentary filmmaker in Canada. Now one of his former students, Malcolm MacLeod, is going to film Fife in a last interview about his famous films and how they were made. Fife has another plan. He is going to confess all his secrets and tell the real story of his life to the camera, while speaking to his wife, Emma. In a room of his apartment prepared for the interview, Fife sits under a focused light in his wheelchair while on a morphine drip with his nurse nearby.

Rather than answering questions posed to him by Malcolm, he insists his wife Emma be present so he can confess the true story of his life before they met. "[H]e’s telling his tale to his wife, Emma, because he wants to be known by her, the one person who has said many times over that she loves him for who he is, regardless of who he is. Perhaps most importantly, for the same reason, he’s telling it to himself- because before he dies he wants to be known to himself, regardless of who he is." Then Fife begins his story before he cam to Canada, when he was married, had a son, and wanted to be an author.

As Fife shares his story in the narrative it becomes clear that his memories may not be quite as coherent or cohesive as he thinks they are to his audience and readers will ultimately wonder what memories are just in his mind and what he is actually sharing. At the beginning the memories Fife shares seem realistic and trustworthy to the reader, through Fife's point-of-view, but then his memories begin to flicker to other events at different times and the realism of his recollections is not so straightforward. Fife is dying. We know this from the start and Fife knows that death is imminent. The thoughts in his head that we learn through the confession he wants to share make him a sympathetic character. As the narrative continues it becomes clear that that his illness and medication may result in the fact that Fife is an unreliable narrator.

This is a compelling story of a dying man sharing his memories. In between his story are interjections from his wife, nurse and others in the room. Their discussions make is clear that what they are hearing is not necessarily what we are reading. Can our memories of our past be trusted or are we our best editors? This is a character study of a man that may not be entirely trustworthy, but these are the stories he wanted to share before he died.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3816279689 ( )
1 vote SheTreadsSoftly | Feb 3, 2021 |
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