Enter the Professor. This bearded, obese, self-absorbed and mysterious academic visits the ragtag community under the causeway and is immediately drawn to the Kid. The Professor is the observer quoted above, the one who coined "American untouchables."
He has his own dirty little secrets, but has managed to stuff them behind a bland wall of scholarly objectivity.
"This could turn into a long-term project," the Professor muses upon first meeting the Kid, "and could eventually produce important data and proposals for dealing with both sexual offenders and the problem of homelessness."
Their destinies intertwine in spectacular and unpredictable — and frankly implausible — ways, but Banks, despite his reputation as a hard-nosed realist bent on giving us a straightforward and unvarnished portrait of life, is really not concerned overmuch with realism here. Or perhaps he's concerned with an offshoot of magical realism.