After John Vernon's brother, Paul, died and John had to settle Paul's affairs, John had to face the fact that his brother had lived a reclusive life of squalor, despite a promising childhood. This heartwarming memoir explores the themes of brotherly love, self-discovery, and coming to terms with the fact that the people we love are often those we ...
After John Vernon's brother, Paul, died and John had to settle Paul's affairs, John had to face the fact that his brother had lived a reclusive life of squalor, despite a promising childhood. This heartwarming memoir explores the themes of brotherly love, self-discovery, and coming to terms with the fact that the people we love are often those we know least about.
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Publishers Weekly, 1999-06-21 As a novelist (La Salle, etc.), Vernon brings structure and meaning to his art. As an observant man, however, he sees more than enough chaos and apparent meaninglessness in real life. In this erudite memoir of how he tried to understand the life and death of his reclusive older brother, Paul, he embarks on a highly discursive exploration of how "history in its minute particulars touches us all, and in the least expected ways." The thrust of the book lies not so much in the narrative of Paul's life as in Vernon's fascination with everyday objects and their histories. As Vernon uses a Chap Stick that he finds in Paul's car, or hammers a nail, each action triggers a meditative reaction. En route to the house left him by his brother, Vernon stops at a Roy Rogers and, chewing a rubbery sandwich, ponders Ptolemy, William Blake and Hero of Alexandria. The simple act of buying a thermometer sparks Vernon's investigation into the history of the object at hand, which, in turn, sparks an investigation into the history of God and the nature of reason, which leads, finally, right back to brother Paul. And remembering Paul's funeral calls forth a treatise on the history of embalming, decomposition, spirituality, the body, the roots of physiognomy. As Vernon's prose ricochets from Paul's possessions to his own and to the many ideas that fill his head, he gives readers both a description and an example of how a writer's mind forges a web of connections among the objects and ideas of the world. It is a beautiful performance lit by stark, revealing bursts of language and delivered with the gravity of liturgy. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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