Banks, Russell Cloudsplitter

ISBN 13: 9780060168605

Cloudsplitter

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9780060168605: Cloudsplitter

Owen Brown is the last surviving son of America's most famous political terrorist, John Brown, who in 1859 raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, intending to galvanise the Southern slaves into rebellion. Now Owen tells John's story. This incredible novel recreates pre-Civil War America, when slavery was tearing the country apart, and tells of one man's passage from abolitionist to guerrilla fighter and, finally, martyr. Cloudsplitter is a dazzling, suspenseful, heartbreaking story filled with both intimate scenes of domestic life and chilling violence.

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Review:

The cover of Russell Banks' mountain-sized novel Cloudsplitter features an actual photo of Owen Brown, the son of John Brown, hero of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". His terrorist band murdered proponents of slavery in Kansas and attacked Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in 1859 on what he considered direct orders from God, helping spark the American Civil War.

A heavily researched but fictionalised Owen narrates this remarkably realistic and ambitious novel by the distinguished author ofThe Sweet Hereafter. Owen is an atheist, but he is as dominated by his father, John Brown, as John was haunted by the angry God who demanded human sacrifice to stop the abomination of slavery.

Cloudsplitter takes you along on John Brown's journey-- as period-perfect as that of the Civil War deserter in Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain--from Brown's cabin facing the great Adirondack mountain (whose Native American name is "Cloudsplitter"), amid an abolitionist settlement called "Timbuctoo", to the various perilous stops of the Underground Railroad spiriting slaves out of the South, and finally to the killings in Bloody Kansas and the Harpers Ferry revolt. We meet some great names--Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson and a (fictional) lover of Nathaniel Hawthorne--but the vast book keeps a tight focus on the aged Owen's obsessive recollections of his Pa's crusade and the emotional shackles John clamped on his own family.

Banks, a white author, has tackled the topic of race as impressively as Toni Morrison does in earlier novels such as Continental Drift. What makes Cloudsplitter a departure for him is its style and scope. He is noted as an exceptionally thorough chronicler of today's USA in rigorously detailed realist fiction such as David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars) which Banks championed. Banks spent half a decade researching Cloudsplitter, and he renounces the conventional magic of his poetical prose style for a voice steeped in the King James Bible and the stately cadences of 19th-century political rhetoric. The tone is closer to Ken Burns' tragic, elegiac The Civil War than to Bruce Olds' recent crazy-quilt modernist novel about John Brown, Raising Holy Hell.

A fan of Banks' more cut-to-the-chase, Hollywood- hot modern style may get impatient, but such readers can turn to, say, Gore Vidal's reissued Lincoln, which peeks into the Great Emancipator's head with a modern's cynical wit. Banks' narrator is poetical and witty at times: Owen notes, "The outrage felt by whites [over slavery] was mostly spent on stoking their own righteousness and warming themselves before its fire." Yet in the main, Banks writes in the "elaborately plainspoken" manner of the Browns, restricting himself to a sober style dictated by the historical subject.

John Brown's head resembles the stone tablets of Moses. You do not penetrate him, and you cannot declare him mad or sane, good or evil. You read, struggling to locate the words emanating from some strange place between history, heaven and hell. --Tim Appelo

Review:

`A splendid epic ... a marvellous book' -- Time Out

`A startling work of vision ... A great American novel' -- Independent

`An utterly compelling story, a tragedy of near-classic
proportions with extraordinary resonances'
-- Financial Times

`Cloudsplitter is a masterwork' -- New Yorker

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Banks, Russell
Published by Harper (1998)
ISBN 10: 0060168609 ISBN 13: 9780060168605
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Book Description Harper, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hardcover and dust jacket. Good binding and cover. Clean, unmarked pages. Ships daily. Bookseller Inventory # 1609130135

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Banks, Russell
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Book Description Harper, 1998. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Russell Banks's gift for creating compelling stories populated by gritty and startlingly real characters has resulted in such acclaimed masterworks as Continental Drift, The Sweet Hereafter, and his most recent bestseller, Rule of the Bone. Now Banks takes on one of American history's most misunderstood figures, John Brown, whose October 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, crossed the line from civil protest to armed struggle, prefiguring the greatest conflagration in this country's history. Narrated by the enigmatic abolitionist's son Owen, the novel dazzlingly re-creates the fractured political and social landscape of pre-Civil War America, when slavery and talk of secession were tearing the country apart. But Cloudsplitter is about much more than one man's quest for political change and social justice. It is a moving and powerfully told story of fathers and sons, of racial conflict and division, as well as an intimate portrait of 19th-century family life. Rich in incident and exquisite detail, Cloudsplitter is the novel that will elevate Russell Banks to the highest rank of 20th-century American authors. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0060168609

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition (1st printing). 12mo - over 6¾" - 7¾" tall. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing)l. Book. Bookseller Inventory # 026707

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Book Description Harper, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition.... New York: Harper [1998]. First edition. First printing. Hardbound. New/New. A pristine unread copy, very fine in all respects but for slight bump to lower spine edge. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Comes with mylar dust jacket protector. All books shipped in sturdy boxes. Smoke-free enviornment. Purchased new and opened only for author to sign. 0.0. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 0608-201

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