There are, as the title says, one hundred brothers in Donald Antrim's novel. This sprawling fraternity has gathered in the family library for a dinner and over the course of a few hours, the author serves up sibling rivalry, revelry, and mayhem in meticulous, unflappable style.
For the most part, The Hundred Brothers skates along on the strength of its comic ingenuity. Yet Antrim has some serious points to make about masculine pride, vanity, and terror--not by invoking them directly, but by inflating them to monstrous (and mirthful) proportions. And the narrator's comments about his rampaging kin often have a larger, melancholic resonance to them. Indeed, when he points out "the complexities of our interdependence and the sorry indignities that pass as currency between us in lieu of gentler tender," he might be talking about any family--even one in the single-digit range.
From Library Journal
In this unconventional novel, 99 of 100 brothers meet in the decaying library of their deceased father's estate to locate and bury the old man's ashes. The brothers range in age from 25 to 93, and their idiosyncracies vary even more widely. Doug, the narrator and family genealogist, navigates the winding road of relations, as well as the labyrinthine stacks of the huge library, the organization of which would send Dewey spinning in his casket. Antrim (Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, LJ 9/15/93) crafts a comic nightmare of a family reunion, in which old hostilities renew themselves, cliques form and disintegrate with lightning speed, and the lines for the bar and buffet are so alarmingly long it's difficult to get a drink, let alone dinner. The search for the missing urn functions as a device to showcase Doug's delusions of his father's ghost, his (well-founded) fears about his character and worth, and his desire to share with his brothers the true meaning of dread?a favor they happily return. Recommended.?Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.