While they aren’t typically met with much sympathy, sex offenders face a definite conundrum upon their release from jail. They are forbidden from living within a certain distance of children, so they are pushed out of communities to live on the margins of society.
In Russell Bank’s new novel, "Lost Memory of the Skin," Bank explores the ramifications of this Catch-22 on a particular sex offender, referred to as "The Kid," who is forced to live under bridges and freeway overpasses in colonies with other released criminals. The author also touches on the irony of this situation due to its effects on society. For instance, the very laws that were meant to protect children from heinous criminals help to create a new cadre of disenfranchised molesters, who face an entirely different set of challenges blocking them from assimilation into society.
Banks’ protagonist is one such marginalized criminal who must now reconcile his past with his present and future. How will he survive outside of prison? How are other sex offenders dealing with life outside? What can Banks’ book reveal not only about the darkness in peoples’ souls, but about the communities we live in? In a world that’s so starkly black and white, is it possible for a former criminal to become a victim?
Russell Banks, author of "Lost Memory of Skin" and other novels, including "Rule of the Bone," "Affliction" and "The Sweet Hereafter."
Tonight, Russell Banks will be at the Writer’s Bloc in Century City at 7:30 pm.