A Book of Reasons
When he inherited his older brother Paul’s southern New Hampshire ranch house, novelist Vernon was horrified to find a decrepit hovel piled with human excrement, pornography, and the corpses of dead pets. Setting out to explain his brother’s fate, Vernon balks at the rot of unfulfilled promise that his brother’s life represented. He frequently interrupts his recollections to deliver odd asides, like the history of the thermometer and the workings of the circulatory system (Paul died of an aneurysm).
While these retreats into dispassionate research may comfort Vernon, they dilute an otherwise powerful, moving personal history. B+