Continental Drift

Banks, Russell

Harper and Row, 1985

p. 26

Continental Drift is one of the really powerful expressions of working class despair and resentment in twentieth century literature. The genius of it can be only suggested in the following sentences. Bob DuBois is a frustrated 30-year-old resident of New Hampshire. First he compares himself (stuck in a job repairing oil burners) with a friend and a brother who have more successful lives. Then: “And what am I doing? Sitting in Catamount in a f—–g chair with the stuffing coming out so bad it has to be covered with slipcovers because I can’t afford to get it upholstered or buy another one . . . Just like my old man . . . He sat in his chair with the stuffing out and listened to Frank Sinatra tell him he was destiny’s darling. Then he got old and then he died. And that’s all she wrote. . . . All I can see is my father all over again. And his father. And on and on. . . . I thought . . . I thought it was going to be different.”

This insight can be used as part of the “bad spiritual momentum” of Mark 4:25: “from those who do not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” So I eat and I work and I eat and I watch TV and I sleep and I eat and I work and I eat and I watch TV . . . I keep doing this over and over until one day my heart explodes or my kidneys quit and that’s it? That’s my life?