This fictionalized version of their story is narrated by the stronger, more circumspect twin, Eng, who must continually urge Chang to restrain his tears, his burning sexual desires, and his fear of the King of Siam (who has promised to "kill the double-child, the bad omen"). From the beginning, Strauss masterfully delineates the brothers' differences. Yet it's the porous nature of their relationship that will fascinate readers even more. The twins, after all, must always sleep face to face, connected by a fleshy band and the knowledge of their shared monstrosity. The fact that they are neither "he" nor "we" allows the author myriad opportunities for wordplay and psychological riddles. Does Chang love his brother, or does he love himself? When he hates his brother, is it only a piece of himself he is hating? Might the connecting band be its own entity, a pet that the brothers must tend to and feed? When they were children, Eng recalls, the band
was about two inches long, and Chang loved it. He called it Tzon, or ripe banana, and wailed if ever I mentioned severing it. It was more taut then, and would crackle like an old knee when we inched closer or farther apart (no one had any idea the thing would grow with us, and one day allow lateral positioning). I often fidgeted with a stretch of brown leathery skin--a hairy birthmark--midway across it, and also a little brown dot, a charming dinky island that lived, insolently, just free from the shoreline of the larger birthmark.The novel's agile prose is like a smooth, strong current, pulling the twins away from their awkward lives. To his great credit, Strauss spends very little time dwelling on Chang and Eng as monsters, and their freak-show existence surfaces only in short, painful flashbacks--a jeering interlude that the narrator would sooner forget. And Eng's voice is a compelling one, full of quips, insecurities, and jealousy. Indeed, at some moments he seems like a standard-issue Renaissance man, reading Shakespeare in the afternoon, dreaming about pretty women, recounting his extensive travels. Yet the tragic fact remains: no matter how many countries this cosmopolitan visits, he will never have a room to himself. --Emily White --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Chang and Eng is an interesting attempt to fictionalize the lives of the original 'Siamese' Twins. Following two prevailing storylines - the twins birth to stardom, and the twins... Read morePublished 10 months ago by T. Edmund
Darin Strauss has written an account of the life of the Siamese twins, Chang and Eng; starting with a few basic known facts, he has woven a richly detailed and imagined story of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by E. Holden
I always wanted to read this when it first came out, but I forgot about it until I saw it at a library sale. I'm glad I picked it up! This is a wonderful historical fiction. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Me reads
The topic was a fascinating one and I'm sure many folks have wondered what it would be like to have to be in the constant company of someone else for your entire life. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jaton'
Interesting tale of the "original Siamese twins" However, I did not like the layout of the chapters. The chapters skipped back and forth between their childhood and adulthood. Read morePublished 22 months ago by T. Milosevich
I bought this book because Joyce Carol Oates recommended it as one her favorite reads. I can see why. Read morePublished on October 18, 2011 by LPF
A fascinating look at Chang and Eng, the two Siamese Twins who could never part. They lived a wild life, and this book details their birth and early years as side show "freaks"... Read morePublished on May 3, 2011 by Patrick Weldon
I had to force my way through this novel. The premise...loss of independence, loss of privacy, loss of identity...was enough to depress me time and again. Read morePublished on August 11, 2010 by Schmadrian