Books: Fugitive

AFFLICTION

by Russell Banks

Harper & Row; 355 pages; $18.95

Russell Banks' 1985 novel, Continental Drift, linked the fate of a blue- collar New Englander with the tragedy of Haitian boat people. In case the reader missed the serious point, Banks began his story with an "Invocation" and ended with a war cry, "Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is."

Minimalists trying to imitate the pin-drop prose of the late Raymond Carver would consider Banks' style uncool. But judging from the author's output, cool seems like a social disease. His structures lack grace but carry the weight...

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