Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On "Brothers" by Nick Ostdick (2143 words) ****

I never had a brother--younger or older. I did have a sister, an Irish twin (i.e., about one year younger), but I was never the kind of older brother, that I know of, that seems to be the center of much fiction, never the guy dispensing advice or beating on the sibling. My sister and I had our fights, sure, and but I don't recall beating her. And I don't recall dispensing advice. Maybe it was the difference in gender, maybe the lack of difference in our ages, or maybe it's just the faulty memory of an older sibling who thinks he didn't do the things an older sibling does when he actually did.

The brother thing came to me when I was in Britain visiting a friend. We went to see some British movie--I don't recall the title, though I think it involved the name Beckham. It was about two brothers and a dad living in Wales. The younger brother took ballet lessons. The older brother, much older, worked in the coal mine with dad. In bed at night, the brothers argued, fought. Just like in real life my friend said, my friend who'd had a two-years-older brother.

This story reminds me a bit of that film--though I think I like this story better. Here's why: This story takes the form of brotherly advice, a format that works well for it. And then it takes that advice up a notch, giving the reader a sense of all the older brother hopes for his younger sibling by providing not just advice but alternate futures. This isn't just about the sibling we realize, about forcing someone into one's whim, but about the older brother himself, about all of his failings, all of his wishes and dreams and hopes, and all of the things he'll never have. Read the story here at Verb Sap.

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