Monday, November 06, 2006
There's some fine writing here, and the premise is interesting, but I can't recommend Blue River. Two brothers--one successful, one a bit of a hoodlum--meet up again after a long separation. The successful brother Ed is a surgeon with a wife and son and all the trappings of an industrious career. The loser brother is Lawrence, who deals blackjack, works as a security guard, and hides in the hills when he's on the lam. Lawrence shows up one morning at Ed's place, and Ed tells him he can't stay. Then, for about 150 pages the novel goes into a bizarre passage wherein Ed thinks about Lawrence and addresses him in the second person. The second person is typically a drag and a technical challenge to pull off, and Canin is not up to the task. The reader is supposed to be surprised to find out that Ed and Lawrence's "good brother/bad brother" roles are perhaps not so clear-cut. But immediately after figuring that out our earlier decision is undercut with absolute proof that one brother is a monster--so who cares if the other feels guilty for turning him in?
Read Faulkner's Barn Burning instead--it's a far superior treatment of the same theme. Blood is thicker than water--to a degree.