Excerpt from The Darling by Russell Banks, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Darling

by Russell Banks

The Darling
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2004, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2005, 416 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


For a few moments, as I always do, I stood by the window and watched the dogs. They are Border collies, father and daughter, Baylor and Winnie, and when they have done their business, the first thing they do every morning is patrol the property, reclaiming their territory and making sure that during the night nothing untoward has happened. Usually I watch them work and think of them as working for me. But this morning they looked weirdly different to me, as if during the night one of us, they or I, had changed allegiances. They looked like ghost dogs, moving swiftly across the side yard in the gray pre-dawn light, disappearing into shadows cast by the house and oak trees, darting low to the ground into the garage, then reappearing and moving on. Today they worked for no one but themselves; that's how I saw them. Their gait was halfway between a trot and a run -- fast, effortless, smooth, and silent, their ears cocked forward, plumed tails straight back -- and they seemed more like small wolves than carefully trained and utterly domesticated herding animals.

For a moment they scared me. I saw the primeval wildness in them, their radical independence and selfishness, the ferocity of their strictly canine needs. Perhaps it was the thin, silvery half-light and that I viewed them mostly in silhouette as they zigged and zagged across the yard, and when they'd checked the garage, an open shed, actually, where I park the pickup truck and my Honda, they moved on to the barn and from there to the henhouse, where the rooster crowed, and then loped all the way to the pond in the front field, where they woke the ducks and geese, never stopping, running in tandem, a pair of single-minded predators sifting their territory at peak efficiency.

In their mix of wildness and control, they were beautiful. In their silence and indistinct, shape-changing fluidity, they frightened me. Five minutes ago they had been under my control, curled in my bed, crowding me to one side of it like a pair of human children. And now they were wild dogs, the kind of beasts the ancient people glimpsed slipping through the brush at dawn between the campsite and the forest.

They had not changed overnight, of course. But maybe, because of my dream of Africa and the chimps, I had, and the dogs were sensing it, as if I had somehow betrayed them. Then when Anthea drove in along the lane from the road, headlights bobbing like heavy fruit on a tree as her beat-up Jimmie pickup passed along the ruts, the dogs ran to her truck as they do every day, and when she stepped out they greeted her with their usual yipping commotion and followed her to the side porch. But when they entered the kitchen behind her, they slipped quickly into the living room, then furtively circled through the dining room to the kitchen again and made for the door and scratched at it to be let back out.

Anthea yanked off her cap and ruffled her auburn curls with one hand and watched the dogs. She screwed up her face and said, "What’s with them doggies?"

"I don’t know," I said. "Maybe something spooked them."

She opened the door, and the dogs bolted across the yard and out of sight. "Must be you that’s spooking them, Hannah." She laughed and filled her mug with coffee, sighed heavily, and sat down at the table.

"Maybe it’s the moon. I had strange dreams all night. You?"

"Nope. Slept like a hibernated bear. Full moon’s not for another three days anyhow." Anthea is impish and winking, a large woman, strong; if she were a man you’d call her burly. She has a broad, flat face the shape and color of a raspberry, a peasant face, some might say, and probably a lot of the summer people have. But if you look, you can tell at once that she’s good humored and hard working and possesses an abundance of mother wit. Everything about her expresses intelligent energy.

From The Darling by Russell Banks. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.