"The next best thing to not having a brother (as I do not) is to have Brothers."
Here is a tapestry of stories about the complex and unique relationship that exists between brothers. In this book, some of our finest authors take an unvarnished look at how brothers admire and admonish, revere and revile, connect and compete, love and war with each other. With hearts and minds wide open, and, in some cases, with laugh-out-loud humor, the writers tackle a topic that is as old as the Bible and yet has been, heretofore, overlooked.
Contributors range in age from twenty-four to eighty-four, and their stories from comic to tragic. Brothers examines and explores the experiences of love and loyalty and loss, of altruism and anger, of competition and compassion—the confluence of things that conspire to form the unique nature of what it is to be and to have a brother.
“Brother.” One of our eternal and quintessential terms of endearment. Tobias Wolff writes, “The good luck of having a brother is partly the luck of having stories to tell.” David Kaczynski, brother of “The Unabomber”: “I’ll start with the premise that a brother shows you who you are—and also who you are not. He’s an image of the self, at one remove . . . You are a ‘we’ with your brother before you are a ‘we’ with any other.” Mikal Gilmore refers to brotherhood as a “fidelity born of blood.”
We’ve heard that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But where do the apples fall in relation to each other? And are we, in fact, our brothers’ keepers, after all?
These stories address those questions and more, and are, like the relationships, full of intimacy and pain, joy and rage, burdens and blessings, humor and humanity.
This fine collection of essays and short fiction play numerous variations on the bonds between brothers, employing a number of popular writers aging from 24 to 84. Among the most gripping is "Missing Parts," David Kaczynski's account of growing up with the Unabomber, seeking understanding without condemnation or pardon. The nonjudgmental tone runs throughout, from Phillip Lopate's "My Brother, Life," a story of envy, to "Doing Time" by John Edgar Wideman, about his brother in prison. Richard Ford extends the scope to include his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers, and David Sedaris injects some much-needed lightness with a charming tribute to his little brother, "the Rooster," who early on developed an amazing capacity for dropping f-bombs. Daniel Menaker and Gregory Orr, whose brothers both met a premature end, explore their survivor's guilt. Jim Shepard writes about writing about his brother. Other contributors include Ethan Canin, Dominick Dunne, Mikal Gilmore, David Maraniss, and Geoffrey and Tobias Wolff. Among a number of similar titles aimed at sisters, this collection is as nostalgic and intimate as any. At least a handful of these tales will connect with anyone who's a brother, or who has one.