Family Life

by Russell Banks

Hardcover, 1988




Los Angeles : Sun & Moon Press, 1988. First Edition, revised.


In Family Life, Russell Banks's first novel, he transforms the dramas of domesticity into the story of a royal family in a mythical contemporary kingdom. Life inside this kingdom includes the king (dubbed "the Hearty" or "the Bluff"), who squeals angrily as is his wont; the queen, who, while pondering the mirror in her chambers, decides to write a book; three adolescent princes who are, respectively, a superb wrestler, a fanatical sports car driver, and a sullen drunk. Then there are the mysterious Green Man with a thing for princes; the Loon, who lives in a tree house designed by Christopher Wren; and a whole slew of murders, mayhem, coups, debauches, world tours, and love and loss and laughter.

User reviews

LibraryThing member abirdman
Banks' first published novel. Short, slightly absurd, often humorous chapters combine to create a moving book. Feels a bit like Donald Barthelme. Unlike any of his later works.
LibraryThing member evanroskos
I feel like there is a Rosetta stone out there that will explain this book. It's about Vietnam. But it's also a fairy tale. and it's also crazy. It also doesn't read like ANYTHING else Banks has written.



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