October 1, 2011

Russell Banks' new novel explores sex offender banishment

The Kid is all alone in the world, hiding in the shadows under the freeway, part of an ever-growing mass of exiles electronically shackled to a society that despises and shuns them.

But who are these modern-day lepers? And why are there so many of them? What if sex offending is a symptom of a malfunctioning society, and these men are just the canaries in the coal mine, carrying the burden of society' shame? What if the Internet is the snake in the Garden of Eden, and pornography is the forbidden fruit?

In Lost Memory of Skin, best-selling novelist Russell Banks explores the deeper ironies of a culture that condemns pedophiles even while turning its children into dehumanized sexual commodities. But on a deeper level, the novel is about the profound loneliness and alienation of the digital age, the inability of people to get beyond false facades to truly trust and connect with each other.

My review continues HERE.

(As always, if you appreciate the book review, please click "yes" at the Amazon site, to boost the placement of my Amazon reviews.)


Anonymous said...


I Clicked on the link to read the rest of your review, but the page came up blank. Is the problem on my end? Can you please provide an alternate link? Thanks.

By the way, you say "pedophiles" in the context of your review. Is this a reference to all or those who really are pedophiles? I presume the novel refers collectively to every adult who has 'offended' against minors in general. Perhaps this possible lack of distinction alludes to how the problem (at least in part) has become inflated due to the erroneous belief that all adults who engage sexually with minors have a "disorder" and are therefore stigmatized in society?

I haven't had a chance to read all of your review or the novel as of yet, so I am not quite sure of all the points involved here, but I look forward to delving deeper into both.

Are adolescents involved in sex always "dehumanized"? What do we mean by "dehumanized"? Yes, the sex slave trade and rape are two cases where victims of any age are dehumanized, but does this status apply to every adolescent involved in all forms of sexual situations?

You seem very outspoken in other posts on the notion that prepubescent children are different from adolescents; sexual situations involving one is different from the other. Both are criminal, yet not always producing a victim. Funny that in too many cases the 'offender' becomes more of a 'victim' than the 'offended'.

Should the court systems treat each case (i.e. adult-prepubescent/adult-adolescent) differently with regard to prosecution and punishment? Should an adolescent's consent to sex be taken into consideration? If so, how should it be viewed and treated?


Karen Franklin, Ph.D. said...


Thanks very much for alerting me to the problem with the link. Not sure what happened, but I've fixed it (hopefully!).

As to your other more philosophical questions and comments, I don't have time this morning to give them their due, but just to clarify: I wrote that children are being turned into dehumanized commodities; I didn't mention adolescents. I am not just talking about sexual slavery or rape; I'm also talking about wider-scale commercial advertising and pornography. I do think most everyone would agree that there is a difference between consensual sex involving adolescents and the abuse of young children. But, adolescents can also be taken advantage of, due to their immaturity and naivete. It's complicated. I hope you read the book; I think you'll enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Karen. The link works. Interesting read, and, yes, I think I would very much enjoy his book. I look forward to it.

My comments were intended as sensible thoughts based on my understanding of the facts of the issues thus far. After rereading my previous post, however, I can see how one would interpret them as somewhat 'philosophical'. Sorry for any misunderstanding there. I am more interested in acquiring factual information pertaining to and drawn from clinical studies, expert testimonies, research, law, etc., not necessarily entertain the moral considerations of philosophical thought.

Yes, I do realize the complexity involving adolescents; each situation is different. Adolescents can be taken advantage of, and that is often the case, but not always. Should a hapless adult drawn into a consensual relationship with a teen be treated the same way as one who manipulates or rapes? It would seem that all cases of this nature are considered the same in the eye of the law. I was merely questioning the wisdom behind that approach.

As for discussing the "complicated" nature of the issue, please feel free to share insight as you have the time. I am fascinated by the subject and want to learn as much about it as I can.