Monday, October 8, 2007

Sibling Books

Posting has been light lately, because of houseguests--Rhian's sister and our neices came to stay for a couple of days. R. and her sis get on pretty well, as do I with my brother--but siblings are a fine subject for a book. I wrote a couple of sibling novels in a row, one funny, one grim; here are a few good ones I can think of.

Chris Offutt, The Good Brother. The first, and so far only, novel by this W6 chum (well--we haven't seen him in years, but still) is about a man from a Kentucky mountain clan who flees his community when he is expected to murder, in revenge for a previous killing, a member of another clan. He flees to Montana where, wouldn't you know it!, ends up entangled with a heavily armed separatist cult. Gripping and odd.

Maria Flook, My Sister Life. I'm ordinarily no fan of memoirs, but I really liked this strange story. Flook's sister disappeared at 14, and the two went on to live lives of depressing similarity; they later reunite in harrowing circumstances. Looking at that link, I see that Flook's got a story collection too--I didn't know that. Will have to give it a look.

I wasn't crazy about Donald Antrim's first book, when it came out, but there was something about it that I couldn't shake, and I've become a fan, especially ever since his memoir last year. (See, there I go again, liking a memoir.) My fandom began, though, with The Hundred Brothers, a novel that's about precisely what it sounds like it's about, and never ceases to be inventive and funny.

I think maybe the best sister novel ever is by the endlessly flabbergasting Kathryn Davis (my favorite of hers is The Walking Tour, but it doesn't fit the post)--her first novel, Labrador. It's a work of stunning imagination and sophistication; suffice it to say it's not about sisters getting together, drinking chamomile tea, discussing boyfriends, and crying on one another's shoulders.

Finally, I have to throw in a mention of the many sibling writers--the Brontes, the Jameses; A. S. Byatt and Margaret Drabble; and now we've got the Bender sisters, the Sedarises (Amy's entertaining book is funny enough to make you vomit), and aren't there a bunch of Minots?


rmellis said...

Though I haven't read it yet, there's a new memoir about a pair of identical twin sisters who were adopted apart, and later reunited: it's called "Identical Strangers." I love that kinda thing.

aos said...

I have two brothers books. Peter Carey's Theft and Bruce Chatwin's On a Black Hill. Most people know the first. The second which I read so long ago featured two brothers, possibly twins, who lived their whole lives together on an isolated farm. It takes place in either Wales or Scotland. Dark and moving.

Anonymous said...

Theft is terrific, I forgot about that!

I'll have to check out the Chatwin...I have read only "In Patagonia."