Russell Banks (1998)
I’m warning you, this book is more than 750 pages long. Despite the author’s always fine writing it’s just too long. But though I may have been impatient while reading this book–it ate up all of my reading time in November–I was never bored. Russell Banks, who wrote The Sweet Hereafter (on my 1996 Best List), spent years researching the life of abolitionist John Brown, whose actions at Harper’s Ferry served as a prelude to the Civil War. The story, related in first person by Brown’s son, is a vivid narrative of rural life in the years before the war. It’s also a deeply personal reflection on the relationship between a son and his famous, larger-than-life father.