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At the center of Foregone is famed Canadian American leftist documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife, one of sixty thousand draft evaders and deserters who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Vietnam. Fife, now in his late seventies, is dying of cancer in Montreal and has agreed to a final interview in which he is determined to bare all his secrets at last, to demythologize his mythologized life. The interview is filmed by his acolyte and ex-star student, Malcolm MacLeod, in the presence of Fife's wife and alongside Malcolm's producer, cinematographer, and sound technician, all of whom have long admired Fife but who must now absorb the meaning of his astonishing, dark confession.
Imaginatively structured around Fife's secret memories and alternating between the experiences of the characters who are filming his confession, the novel challenges our assumptions and understanding about a significant lost chapter in American history and the nature of memory itself. Russell Banks gives us a daring and resonant work about the scope of one man's mysterious life, revealed through the fragments of his recovered past.
Praise for Russell Banks
'Russell Banks' work presents without falsehood and with a tough affection the uncompromising moral voice of
our time' - Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient
'Foregone focuses [Banks'] sharp eye on the feints and fictions amid life's “facts,” as he reveals his fascinatingly fallible character, Fife' - Ann Beattie
'Banks, who turned 80 this year, explores aging, memory, and reputation in thoughtful and touching ways, enhanced by the correspondence between aspects of Leo's life and the writer's own history... A challenging, risk-taking work marked by a wry and compassionate intelligence' - Kirkus Reviews on Foregone
'Russell Banks is, word for word, idea for idea, one of the great American novelists' - Colum McCann
'Russell Banks knows everything worth knowing…and much, much more' - Washington Post
'A writer of extraordinary power' - Boston Globe
'One of the overlooked classics of American literature' - Guardian on Cloudsplitter