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Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found Paperback – April 28, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
All she wanted was a loving, solid relationship with her only sibling. To accomplish this, she read everything she could find on sibling relationships and entered psychotherapy herself. But Carl remained Carl, unwavering in his unpleasantness, the man who went so far as to go to a performance of Wagner's "The Ring Cycle" rather than attend his only sister's wedding.
Then Carl was struck with a cancer called adenocarcinoma, which has a survival rate of only 11%. Sure that this would be their chance to bond, their last chance, Marie dropped everything in New York and moved to Washington to be with her brother. He accepted her help, in his own way, as she researched treatment regimens and clinical trials, and learned everything there is to know about apple orchards.
Marie also researched their family and uncovered a wealth of genealogical research. While this did not interest Carl, readers will be interested to learn that Marie's aunt, Anita Brenner, was also a writer, an art critic who was integral to bringing Mexican art to prominence in the 1930s. No matter how successful she was in her career, her older brother, Marie and Carl's father, never approved of her. His letters to his sister have exactly the same negative tones of judgment and disapproval as Carl's letters to Marie.Read more ›
As the title suggests, Ms Brenner and her brother, Carl, are not at all alike. Chalk and cheese, in fact.
She's an investigative journalist, highly intelligent, happy and successful. He is similarly smart and successful, but also anal and controlling, a cold fish who sends his sister a tray of fruit from his orchards every year with a note that says: 'I picked them myself. Don't give them away.'
A right-wing lawyer from Texas who has in his mid-life moved into growing apples in a big way in Washington State, he has always kept his younger, more lefty, liberal-intellectual sister at more than arm's length. It seems he has no love for her, and his attitude towards her and her smart, New York life is obnoxious and condescending. And really weird. 'You always have to show off and tell us what you know, Carl said.'
Anyone of us in the same boat, faced with such a dour character and such direct put-downs, would be forgiven for turning our back on him. Yet she doesn't cast him off as a bad egg or a black sheep, but instead, when she discovers he has cancer, she puts her life on hold and moves across the country to go into bat for him, hoping to find a way to save his life, and also to spend their last few months together and fix what ails them both.Read more ›
Marie Brenner's Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found is definitely one of the honest ones. In fact, in its frank discussion of family relationships it reminds me of Mary Gordon's Circling My Mother: A Memoir, perhaps the bluntest, most honest, memoir I have ever read. Neither of these books could have been easy for their authors to write.
The title of Brenner's book is an apt description of the relationship she had with her only sibling, Carl, for so many years. Marie and her older brother simply could not have been more different from one another. Carl, a loner who seems to have been a conservative almost from birth, joined the John Birch Society at age thirteen in their hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Marie, on the other hand, was outgoing and her politics were the polar opposite of Carl's. As Marie describes it, their childhood relationship was a tension-filled one that continued into adulthood even though they were eventually divided by a geographic distance as wide as the one between their political and social views.
Carl gave up the legal profession at age 40 and became a Washington apple grower. Marie became an investigative journalist and "writer at large" for Vanity Fair in New York City. Carl saw her lifestyle and her political views as stand-ins for everything he hated most in the world and he was never reluctant to remind her of that.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really appreciate Marie Brenner and have followed her career always pleased to read her work. I wanted to like this more than I did. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Susan
Difficult subjects, both author and her brother. Well-written and honest.Published 2 months ago by Wade Rathke
This is a remarkable literary work. Marie Brenner writes about the relations that exist between siblings and how difficult and overwhelming they are to understand. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Frank
For decades I have lived in the town where her brother's orchards were. Her details of this area are dramatically incorrect, to the point where I would question the authenticity... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Treaty
It seemed more of a story about the author and her achievements than about the brother and his final journey.Published on October 22, 2013 by Carol Maul
did not think the brother merited his sister's good intentions-- would have liked a more in depth account of their relationshipPublished on March 29, 2013 by Marilyn Feinman
The most (only?) honest moment in the book is where the author's brother calls her a phony, and she stops, for one sentence, to pose the question of whether she is indeed a phony. Read morePublished on September 19, 2012 by Heath