Monday, November 15, 2010
Well, I took my time but I finally finished and I liked it. I could certainly understand why someone would not like it or lose interest very quickly, but I think the simplicity of the story and the characters is the real draw. Each character-driven "chapter" offers insight into how these three eccentric, backwoods brothers came to be. Reading this book was like looking through a window into a rural kind of life I have never known.
I found the relationship between the three brothers to be very touching and also, sad. You get this bittersweet glimpse into a very special and close relationship between the oldest, Vernon, and Audie, the middle brother. Audie, while never diagnosed, suffers from some mental challenges and Vernon, always protective, is his guide and teacher in a world that Audie has trouble interpreting for himself. Creed, the youngest, is also close to his brothers but he is more the odd man out or the loner of the three. He seemed to have aspirations of a "better" life at some time or another but when the world turned its back on him he resigned himself to the fate of keeping up the family farm.
As I mentioned earlier, the story is character-driven, but the mystery surrounding Vernon's death is omnipresent. Creed is accused of "murdering" his brother in his sleep but I found that it was a mercy killing. Vernon's death was an inevitability but in the meantime, he was uncomfortable. I think for Creed, "killing" his brother was akin to shooting Old Yeller. He was putting him out of his misery.
These men were self-sufficient and living by the laws of their land. Just as their primitive ways and culture were not meant for the outside world, the legalities and standards of the outside world were in direct conflict with them. The clash of these two worlds had drastic consequences for Creed and Audie. Certainly, had there been no outside interference the ending would have been very different. Some things are better left alone.
I would definitely give Jon Clinch's first book a try. I read bits and pieces of Huck Finn in middle or high school but I do not know if I need that background to read Finn, which is about his father.
Posted by Denise at 11:20 PM