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The Story of Edgar Sawbones: A Novel About Life, Loss, and the Power of Love

The Story of Edgar Sawbones: A Novel About Life, Loss, and the Power of Love

Review: In Russell Banks’ new novel, Florida is our bellwether (and not in a good way)

Russell Banks’ first novel, the 2013 Booker winner The Finkler Question, was inspired by a moment in the news when Florida governor Rick Scott called for a mass evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents of the state from a small coastal area.

Banks’ follow-up, The Story of Edgar Sawbones, deals almost as much with the aftermath of the 2010 hurricane season and the flooding that led to the deaths of thousands of people in the Panhandle, as it does with the lives of those survivors of the storm. Though set in the fictional Florida town of Ocean Springs, the book is by no means a work of journalism. It is a novel about life, loss, and the power of love.

The book was published this week by Doubleday, and is available for preorder. Here’s a quick review of the book, by our own Michael Karpin.

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This is the second of a series of five book reviews for Every review will appear here on the site; you can read them after you buy the book. This one is the third in a series of reviews by the News/Review reporters. Enjoy!

The novel starts with a devastating event.

We see it at the beginning of the narrative, in the small town of Ocean Springs, Florida. The community is reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Wilma a year earlier. A storm surge washed away the town’s docks, the post office, and the library. The library was destroyed. In its place rose a makeshift wooden shelter, with two desks, a couple of folding chairs, and a few hundred paper signs.

There were no customers to pay their tuition bill.

No one had thought to cancel classes.

The staff members who remained to run the shelter were all volunteers

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