In the early days of the Garden of Eden, when Adam was still the lone inhabitant, God gathered all the beasts of the field and birds of the air and brought them to him to "see what he would call them; for that which the man called each of them would be its name." Adam had the responsibility of naming them for all the world and for all eternity. In modern times, the creation of the National Sex Offender Registry accomplished a similar deed with convicted sex offenders, identifying them for all the world via the internet. A comparison of the creatures in the Garden of Eden with sex offenders hardly seems practicable - possibly even offensive - but Russell Banks constructs a multi-layered, engrossing character study embedded within a Garden of Eden parable in his novel, Lost Memory of Skin
, about a convicted sex offender who longs for innocent times.
Living in a tent...
Beyond the Book
Lost Memory of Skin
revolves around a colony of convicted sex offenders residing beneath the Archie B. Claybourne Causeway, which connects the city of Calusa, Florida with the bordering Great Panzacola Swamp. Banks's vivid descriptions bring these fictional locations to life, and though they are imaginary, both the city and the colony bear a striking resemblance to real-life Miami and the community of sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.
In 2005, Miami-Dade County passed one of the most stringent sex offender laws in the...