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The Brothers K by [Duncan, David James]
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The Brothers K Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 240 customer reviews

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Length: 654 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Duncan took almost 10 years to follow up the publication of his much-praised first novel, The River Why, but this massive second effort is well worth the wait. It is a stunning work: a complex tapestry of family tensions, baseball, politics and religion, by turns hilariously funny and agonizingly sad. Highly inventive formally, the novel is mainly narrated by Kincaid Chance, the youngest son in a family of four boys and identical twin girls, the children of Hugh Chance, a discouraged minor-league ballplayer whose once-promising career was curtained by an industrial accident, and his wife Laura, an increasingly fanatical Seventh-Day Adventist. The plot traces the working-out of the family's fate from the beginning of the Eisenhower years through the traumas of Vietnam. One son becomes an atheist and draft resister; another immerses himself in Eastern religions, while the third, the most genuinely Christian of the children, ends up in Southeast Asia. In spite of the author's obvious affection for the sport, this is not a baseball novel; it is, as Kincaid says, "the story of an eight-way tangle of human beings, only one-eighth of which was a pro ballpayer." The book portrays the extraordinary differences that can exist among siblings--much like the Dostoyevski novel to which The Brothers K alludes in more than just title--and how family members can redeem one another in the face of adversity. Long and incident-filled, the narrative appears rather ramshackle in structure until the final pages, when Duncan brings together all of the themes and plot elements in a series of moving climaxes. The book ends with a quiet grace note--a reprise of its first images--to satisfyingly close the narrative circle. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

If John Irving reimagined The Brothers Karamazov as one of his kooky families and Thomas Pynchon did a rewrite, the result might be something close to this long-awaited second novel by the author of The River Why ( LJ 2/15/83). The brothers are the Chance boys, sons of Papa Toe, a minor league pitcher whose crushed thumb is replaced by a transplanted toe, and his devout Seventh Day Adventist wife. Like Dostoevsky's Karamazovs, the Chances speculate on the nature of God, delve into the nuances of what constitutes moral behavior, experience evil, suffer from criminal acts, and, finally, determine that God is love and love redeems. But these are American boys, and although their lives contain some terrible moments, this is essentially a comic novel. Among its many merits, it reflects far better than most fiction the wide variety of Sixties experiences, giving student radical and Vietnam grunt alike their sympathetic due. Baseball provides the central metaphor for this huge hypnotic novel, but although in that sport a "K" indicates a strikeout, here it scores a home run.
- Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4040 KB
  • Print Length: 654 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press (July 15, 2010)
  • Publication Date: July 28, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003VS0NDC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,279 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew Weaver on July 7, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sigh. Who has time for the epics anymore? Not a college student, it would seem. "Read?" most scoff. "I haven't got time, what with my busy schedule, for a short story, let alone a big book that reaches nearly 700 pages in length."
Still, somewhere out there is the rare reader who likes the challenge an epic presents, loves to get lost in fascinating, multi-layered characterizations and plots that expand over decades.
For those readers, there is David James Duncan's 1992 offering, "The Brothers K." It excels on all those fronts I just mentioned, and on several more.
But when a friend recently handed it over to me, suggesting that I take a look, I too balked at its size:
"Look at it! Are you trying to kill any semblance of a social life I may have? This thing is mammoth and unwieldy!"
But my friend was persistent and so I went home and took a look. And soon became lost in the words, the story, the characters.
"Brothers K" is about the Chance family. Father Hugh is a mill worker who used to be the most promising baseball player around, until an accident at the mill cost him his dream. Mother Laura clings obsessively to her Adventist religion, since it once protected her from the darkest hour of her past.
Together, they have four boys and two twin girls. Everett is the oldest, a charming, witty rogue who doesn't share Laura's faith. Peter is next, and is a fellow cynic. Irwin is the large and innocent third child. Kincaid is a blank slate, who serves as the readers' eyes in the guise of the book's narrator.
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Format: Paperback
Being a native Oregonian and having a husband who is a baseball fanatic, I suppose it was only a matter of time until I found my way to THE BROTHERS K. It is without doubt, the most entertaining and fulfilling novel I have ever read. The 700 pages went too fast! I grew to love the Chance family as I laughed and cried with them through the pages of Duncan's opus, and I postponed reading the last pages as long as I could, simply because I did not want it to end. Duncan provides an unbelievably complex, yet brilliantly clear portrait of a family as it comes of age, careening through the turmoil of adolescence, religion, war, sickness and love. THIS BOOK IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST-HAVE IN ANYONE'S HOME LIBRARY!
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By A Customer on July 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
THIS BOOK IS TRULY AMAZING! Not knowing anything about baseball, the 60's, organized religion, or having a large family, i found I could relate to every character in an infinite number of ways! Duncan's writing is fabulous and the characters are wonderful, the story is epic, and the book with its 700 pages was far too short in my mind! I wish every book was as joyful, bitter, heartwrenching and funny as this one. EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT! The world would be a better place.
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Format: Paperback
This was a wonderful, quirky, funny, tragic, heartwarming portrayal of family life set on the backdrop of the 1960s. It had the enjoyment of a John Irving novel, but much better - PG and not so over the top. You'll just love every one of these characters. And if you are a baseball fan, all the better.
A friend handed this book off to me as she finished it, not knowing I was a baseball fan. I looked at the 600 pages and rolled my eyes - and then I started reading and couldn't stop. She had to attempt reading it twice to get through it - thought the beginning dragged. The second attempt won her over. I didn't feel this way (one attempt was enough to win me), but I imagine if you aren't a baseball fan that portions will not be as interesting to you. However, so much more is going on that there is plenty to keep everyone entertained.
A bonus for me is that these kids come of age around the time I did. But I don't think you'll need to have lived through the 60s to enjoy it.
You'll laugh, you'll cry - and come away very satisfied.
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Format: Paperback
This is an incredible novel. It combines some of the best features of a group of my favorite novels--A Prayer from Owen Meany (the subject matter, interesting chracters, wonderful anecdotes and twists throughout the story), Catcher in the Rye (introspective chracters looking for their way in the world and inviting the reader to join the adventure), and A River Runs Through It (the gorgeous scenery, sports and religion, and again fantastic characters). It is a long novel, but don't let that frighten you because it reads quickly and will engage you for all 640 pages and leave you wanting to learn more about the lives of the Chance family, even after following them for 30 years. As a reader you become involved in all of their lives, your emotions become tied up in their successes and failures, and they seem like real people you have known your entire life. I could ask for nothing more from a novel about a family. The books also contains excellent dialogue, a diverse and engaging set of tagents, and subtely addresses several debates (Vietnam, religion, abortion, etc.) that have dominated the past 40 years--it will keep you thinking. I can not recommend this book highly enough, I loved it, and even if you do not like baseball, religion, or politics, around which the story revolves, you will like this book.
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