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The sweet hereafter : a novel
Russell Banks
Adult Fiction BANKS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

With resonating effect, Banks ( Continental Drift ; Affliction ) tackles the provocative subject of a fatal accident involving children, and its effect on a small community. On a frigid, snowy morning in the Adirondacks, veteran school bus driver Dolores Driscoll goes off the road, carrying 14 children to their deaths. Dolores survives; hers is the first and the last narrative voice here. Plainspoken and pragmatic, Dolores and her crippled husband have been longtime residents of the close-knit, economically depressed town of Sam Dents, but the accident makes her an outcast. The flat, almost uninflected voice of Vietnam vet and recent widower Billy Ansel, who witnessed the accident, reflects the numbness he now seeks: both his children died in the crash. Though Banks makes too much of Billy's ``noble'' character, he effectively portrays the man's refuge in drink and his downhill slide. When he introduces the obsessive, enraged voice of New York negligence lawyer Mitchell Stephens, who hopes to manipulate the bereaved into bringing suit against anyone he can find to blame, Banks jolts the narrative into high gear, and uses Stephens's contempt for the grieving parents--their ``sagging porches and rusting pickup trucks''--to render a clear sociological portrait of the community. Beautiful teenager Nicholesp ok? Burnell, crippled as a result of her injuries, takes revenge in her own way, propelling the novel to a moving denouement. Banks handles his dark theme with judicious restraint, empathy and compassion; the result is that this book is less downbeat than his previous works--and more powerful. 30,000 first printing; $45,000 ad/promo. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

One snowy morning in the small town of Sam Dent in upstate New York, a school bus careens into a frozen stream, killing 14 children. The Sweet Hereafter examines the aftereffects of this accident through the eyes of four narrators: the driver of the bus, a parent devastated by the loss of two children, an opportunistic big-city lawyer, and a permanently crippled teenager who survived the crash. Grief and an obsessive need to assign blame draw the townspeople together; all too quickly the focus shifts from what they have lost to how much they stand to collect in insurance settlements. Banks, who along with Raymond Carver, Ernest Herbert, and a handful of other writers has revived the genre of working-class fiction in the last decade, is uncharacteristically heavy-handed in extracting a moral from these proceedings. Not up to the high standard set by Continental Drift ( LJ 4/15/85). Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/91.-- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Dolores Driscoll
Female
Age: 50s
Married
School bus driver



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