By turns uproariously funny and deeply moving, and beautifully written throughout, The Brothers K tells a story both striking in its originality and poignant in its universality.
©1992 David James Duncan; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"[A] stunning work: a complex tapestry of family tensions, baseball, politics, and religion, by turns hilariously funny and agonizingly sad." (Publishers Weekly)
The Chase family is a big family - four boys and twin girls. The mum is manically religious and the boys are starting to resent being made to go to church while their beloved Pappa stays at home watching the baseball.
Pappa has an accident at the saw mill, threatening his baseball career and Mamma's religious fervor is splitting the family; but the kids continue through high school, college, hippie dazes and Vietnam, each one having heartbreaking stories, particularly Irwin, the slow witted but fiercely loyal and loving GI.
I've been waiting for the unabridged audiobook of Duncan's masterpiece for nearly two decades. In that time I've read and re-read the novel countless times. Each encounter with this novel brings new insights, suprises and continual fond remembrances of the Chances as they deal with baseball, family and faith.
The Chance family lives in Camus, Washington, where Papa, a barely minor league pitcher, works at the local paper mill. The brothers of the title idolize both Papa and baseball. But baseball faces stiff competition from Mama's Seventh Day Adventist faith. Each member of the family finds its way through the maze of the 1960s in the light of that fight for their loyalties. Along the way come gut-busting laughs (you'll remember both Sabbath school and meal-time prayers and twin girls' scientific investigation of their suddenly dead grandmother) and the tenderest of moments between estranged family members.
Duncan knows how to give you full-bodied characters rather than trumped up caricatures. His language rings true throughout. It's both luminous and grounded. Every time I've read the novel, those around me have tired of my inability to keep from reading aloud. With the audiobook, you get the whole thing read to you.
The narration of this audiobook at first may seem slow and methodical. That's important, because this is a story to be savored. From the first scene of Papa Chance's son sprawled securely in his father's lap, watching cigarette smoke wafting into the air, to the last heart-breaking moments, Duncan takes you deep into this family's enduring connections and their jagged rending at the hands of the world and their own stubborn natures.
My hardcover first edition of The Brothers K is a treasure and has a place of prominence in my bookshelves. I'll cherish my iPod more than ever now that my favorite book is stored there, too. Thanks Audible.com for making it available to us!
"A literary gem!"
Listening to this book is so intense you do not want to rush through it. It is a series of stories that unfold like a string of iridescent pearls. I cannot wait to finish listening so I can start at the beginning again. Give this book the time it deserves. It is a literary masterpiece.
I haven't tried this book in print, but I imagine that the audio version might be even better than the print version. It's the sort of book that is meant to be savored: long, patient, careful, and measured. The narrator does a great job taking the story one word at a time. The soft measured tone can cause one to drift away for a moment, but it calls you back soon enough.
This story is transformative. Beautifully written, deeply personal, and well-told. The best part about it is its pace. It's exquisitely slow. Not boring, just careful. And to me, it feels like the author is being careful because he's writing about peoples' hearts, and we should be careful with peoples' hearts. Each character gets the time they need for the reader/listener to really understand them. The prose seems to wash over in waves, sad, funny, interesting, dramatic, or frightening. For twenty-eight hours you get to be a part of this amazing, and typical, and terrible, and complicated family, and it's wonderful.
As soon as I can get to a bookshop I intend to buy a print copy, read it over and over, cover it in coffee stains, crease the spine and the cover, and carry it around with me through the rest of my life. I will read it to my children, I will send copies to everyone I know, I will cherish it. It made me feel alive. It made me feel like my own weird, imperfect, unsettled existence has meaning and beauty and permanence.
I recommend this book for everyone, literally everyone, but I think that this is essential reading for anyone with a quarter-life crisis or a strong belief that they watch too much TV but there is nothing new that's good to read. There is. This is it.
Baseball, Jesus and Vietnam. Who would think that a story so deep, so touching, funny, sad, could hit so many emotions, sometimes simultaneously. I was very sorry for this story to end. The narrator was outstanding. I have been talking to anyone who will listen to me throughout the entire time I was reading this story. I wanted to share it, discuss it! WOW. The first five star I have ever given. Listen to it - you won't regret it nor forget it.
This is a novel about brothers, baseball, family and religion. I have a passing interest in about 50% of these topics.
But I absolutely loved this book.
The narrator was perfect. The many, many stories of the lives of the family members were engrossing little gems.
Though it was very long, I fully intend to listen to the whole thing all over again.
This book is fabulous, beautifully written, sad, funny, believable. Many hours of pleasure; not a boring moment. I looked forward to listening to it and wished it would have gone on forever. The narrator, too, is superb.
"The Brothers K"
A biographical novel of a family over one generation that encompasses exceptional experiences of life. Moved between the emotional extremes it proves to be very rewarding and recommended by me for introspective and thoughtfull readers/listeners.
Great listen. The descriptions were great, you were there experiencing the story, but not overwhelmed with details. The narrator was excellent, very easy to listen to. The journey of this family was fascinating, couldn't wait to hear what happened next. Well worth the listen.
"This book has everything"
I fell in love with this family. I especially fell in love with loveable Irwin and I was happy the way things turned out for him. You will laugh, cry, shout, holler nooooooooooo sometimes and also shout a firm yes!
Family dynamics are always interesting to me. We usually are who we are because of family. The constant reference to the Brothers Karamazov got me interested. I think I'll get it on my next credit.
Humorous, poignant, interesting. The story of a flawed family, their trials, conflicts and ultimate reconciliation. It had me laughing one minute and somber the next. I highly recommend.
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