A septuagenarian leftist documentary filmmaker gives a last interview from his mythologized life to a former star student to whom he discloses his experiences as a draft dodger who fled to a new life in Montreal.
...furiously driven ...One of the main strands of Banks’s fiction has long been what you might call a working-class New England existentialism ... Foregone is in the same vein, only here the protagonist is an artist. And what Banks reveals of this artist’s life is a profound emptiness, seeded early on, which Fife has run from ever since ... As always, Banks’s prose has remarkable force to it ... The book’s real theme is the curse of being convinced that one is unlovable. And who among us hasn’t suffered that conviction to one degree or another?
The mixture of bravado and vulnerability is characteristic of Mr. Banks’s impressive body of work, whose range has been underappreciated ... a gruff exterior covers an abyss of sentimentality ... This is a sensitive but dreary novel of valediction that pursues atonement without any apparent belief that such a thing is possible.
Drawing at times on the broad outlines of his own life, Banks presents the story of a man tearing through the affections of others in search of a sense of purpose commensurate with his ego. In many ways, this is a well-worn story in America and American literature — the facile White male darting from responsibilities he considers too restrictive and too beneath him ... But Banks has embedded that self-indulgent tragedy in the larger context of an anguished confession ... Without ever collapsing into nonsense, it’s a remarkably fluid use of prose to represent the experience of delirium while wrestling to the final moments with the challenge of absolution ... in this complex and powerful novel, we come face to face with the excruciating allure of redemption.