Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Brothers: Life, Death, Truth by Ted van Lieshout (3.5/5)

The back says: Can you still be a brother when your brother is dead? Luke often wonders. His brother Marius has died, leaving Luke alone with their parents. When their mother decides to burn Marius’s belongings in a ceremonial bonfire, Luke saves his brother’s diary and makes it his own by writing in it. And so begins a dialogue between the brothers, the dead and the living, from which truths emerge, truths of life and death and love.

I say: I was a tad annoyed with the way this started, mostly because I just didn’t like the mother and the way she was treating Luke; and him, in turn, acting up. The entire family was in such emotional disorder, which is understandable in a house still grieving, but I just felt so sorry for Luke.

He had no one to turn to.

The best part of this story was when Luke finally decided to read his brother’s entries in the diary, and write his own response in between the paragraphs. Not only because we got to see what Marius had died of, but also the relationship between the two brothers. It was heartbreaking to find out how Marius truly felt about Luke, especially since the latter had no idea. Van Lieshout manages to describe the way the signals and messages got misinterpreted and tangled over the course of Marius’s illness with such delicate perfection, it felt like such a shame when the diary entries ended. Because, truth be told, I didn’t care too much about the other parts; they just felt so mundane. Which, of course, they were,

because that’s just the way life is sometimes.

As cheesy as the end was, it was a nice conclusion. There’s this once sentence on the final page that made me shed a tear because it was just so silly and the essence of everything the two brothers should have been all along, but Luke had somehow forgotten or overlooked. Its childish simplicity made it so beautiful it was poetic.

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