I'll Never Be Long Gone
The lives of brothers Charlie and Owen Bender are changed forever on the night their father walks into the Vermont woods with a death wish and a shotgun. The second shock comes when his suicide note bequeaths the family's restaurant to Charlie alone, while leaving Owen with instructions to follow his own path, wherever it may take him.
Years later, the restaurant is a success. The void in Charlie's life, created by his beloved brother's absence, is finally filled when a passionate affair becomes a deeply satisfying marriage. And now prodigal son Owen is returning home, to be welcomed back into the family fold. But the cruel legacy that tore a brotherhood apart created wounds not easily healed . . . and there must be reckoning.
The rugged, rain-lashed landscape of Eden, Vt., becomes a palpably biblical backdrop for a moving generational tale in Greene's second novel (after Mirror Lake). The Bender brothers Charlie, 18, and Owen, 17 find their lives reshaped by the will of their formidable late father. To Charlie goes the family restaurant, Charlotte's; to Owen goes $10,000 and a directive to find himself. Greene flashes to years when Charles Sr. pitted son against son in Iron Chef like matches picking his successor, it's now clear. Charles's will also bequeaths his wife the freedom to return to city life, which she promptly does. Working himself to the bone in the kitchen, Charlie seeks an assistant chef, and Owen's high school girlfriend, Claire Apple, resurfaces with impeccable timing, having acquired both beauty and culinary savvy in her time away from Eden. The two fall in love, marry and have a son, Jonah, setting the stage for a smoldering Cain-and-Abel conflict when Owen returns after years of adventures. Greene's evocative descriptions of nature, food and love infuse this novel with sensuality and a nostalgia-tinged melancholy. And if Greene's reach for scriptural allegory feels presumptive, the book is redeemed by its careful consideration of the burden, and blessing, of legacy.