- Fizzy Thoughts: A Very Long Book

A Very Long Book

Monday, October 29, 2007



The Brothers K

by David James Duncan

1996

656 pages (ouch!)

This is a book about brothers and family and religion and love and acceptance. It begins in the 1950s and ends in the 1970s. The Chance brothers (yes, I know, Chance doesn't start with a K...I'll get to that) are all very different individuals. This book explores those differences and how they (and baseball) affect the lives of the entire family.

First, the bad parts. This book is long. At 656 pages, it screams for an editor. There were parts of the book that were totally unnecessary, like the rambling aside about Roger Maris. Baseball is key to the book, but at times it felt like the author was wanting to write a book of baseball history. I much preferred the parts of the story about the brothers, and felt like I was wading through baseball crap to get to the good parts. There is also a bit too much back story. It's good back story, but this book did not need to be 656 pages. 356 would have sufficed.

Another thing that bugs me is the title. The brothers K. The family's last name is Chance. Do you see a K in there? I'm sure there's some deep meaning because it's referring to The Brothers Karamazov, but to be honest, I've never read that, so I wouldn't know. The K thing bugged me for half the book, when the baseball reference was finally given. Even with the explanation, I still don't like the title.

And the cover (I'm picky about covers). They live in a town, by a freeway, with neighbors. Not off a dirt road in the country. I'm sure the author had to argue to keep some of those 656 pages...why didn't he argue about the cover art?

Now that I've gotten all that off my chest...it's a good book. I loved the characters (okay, I have a few issues with the mom, but that's okay). They are all unique and quirky, which is why I found the baseball parts so darn distracting...I just wanted to get back to the brothers and what was going to happen. Honestly, I'm surprised I made it through the whole thing. It's not a book I would recommend to many people, which is a shame.

3 comment(s):

Melissa said...

A couple of thoughts on your complaints. I read this one for my online book group, and a couple people commented about the cover (my version had a baseball on the front...). We came to the conclusion that the house was the one from Kincaid, Oklahoma, because that's where the family was the happiest.

I agree about the baseball stuff -- I skipped most of it, but it seemed like it was important to the author...

The K, though, makes sense... if you know baseball. I think there's probably some literary illusion to Karamazov, but I've not read that one either, so I'm not sure. I thought it was kind of catchy... I suppose he could have called it The Brothers Chance, but that doesn't have the same kind of ring to it.

LisaMM said...

That is a long book. Generally we keep books to around 400 pages or less for my real life book club, although the one we're reading this month is 661 pages, and it didn't feel long at all. I hated to see it end.

softdrink said...

Melissa - The house in Kincaid makes perfect sense! Now I can live with the cover. The title, though...still can't get over that. :-D

Lisa - I found your blog, and figured out you're reading The Other Boleyn Girl. I never thought I'd want to read her (Gregory's) books, but you're the second person this week who has recommended it. I might have to give it a shot.

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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