The Hundred Brothers Hardcover – Jan 28 1997
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There are, as the title says, one hundred brothers in Donald Antrim's novel. This sprawling fraternity has gathered in the family library for a dinner and over the course of a few hours, the author serves up sibling rivalry, revelry, and mayhem in meticulous, unflappable style.
For the most part, The Hundred Brothers skates along on the strength of its comic ingenuity. Yet Antrim has some serious points to make about masculine pride, vanity, and terror--not by invoking them directly, but by inflating them to monstrous (and mirthful) proportions. And the narrator's comments about his rampaging kin often have a larger, melancholic resonance to them. Indeed, when he points out "the complexities of our interdependence and the sorry indignities that pass as currency between us in lieu of gentler tender," he might be talking about any family--even one in the single-digit range.
From Library Journal
In this unconventional novel, 99 of 100 brothers meet in the decaying library of their deceased father's estate to locate and bury the old man's ashes. The brothers range in age from 25 to 93, and their idiosyncracies vary even more widely. Doug, the narrator and family genealogist, navigates the winding road of relations, as well as the labyrinthine stacks of the huge library, the organization of which would send Dewey spinning in his casket. Antrim (Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World, LJ 9/15/93) crafts a comic nightmare of a family reunion, in which old hostilities renew themselves, cliques form and disintegrate with lightning speed, and the lines for the bar and buffet are so alarmingly long it's difficult to get a drink, let alone dinner. The search for the missing urn functions as a device to showcase Doug's delusions of his father's ghost, his (well-founded) fears about his character and worth, and his desire to share with his brothers the true meaning of dread?a favor they happily return. Recommended.?Adam Mazmanian, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
All I know is Pynchon and Delillo just confuse me, Vollman makes me laugh but I can't figure out what the hell he's driving at, but Antrim just makes me feel good all over.
Maybe it's the way he introduces all 100 brothers, in order, in about 5 pages, and then blithely writes the rest of the book as if you're going to remember who they all are. Which is a good hook, because, who hasn't been to a social function where you get introduced to a few dozen people within 5 minutes, after which you're supposed to remember everybody?
Maybe I just identify with the hapless, socially retarded dope of a narrator who just wants everyone to get along but ends up, well, no spoilers, in a unique and singularly undignified situation.
But it's not simplistic comedy - it's a bit like one of those Borges stories where you think, "ok, this is gonna be a quick read, only 12 pages" and then you find it takes a good 2 hours to make a bit of sense of it.
Well, you could compare it to a lot of things, but that wouldn't do it justice, because the best part is, it just ain't quite like anything you've read before.
Doug is no innocent amid his brothers, who range in careers from pschoanalysts to tripping tropical botonists. The fact that the narration comes from one just as sick and perverted as the rest of the crowd guarantees plenty of hilarity throughout the entire novel, enough to cause even the stodgiest reader a couple of unexpected laughs.
This novel confirms my belief that Donald Antrim is one of the most keenly intelligent writers of contemporary fiction. His acute observations of modern life and hilarious perversions of reality are concurrently odd and fascinating. After reading "Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World," and now this, I am immensely looking forward to reading "The Verificationist." Antrim is one author to look out for.
With The Hundred Brothers, a ridiculous premise is set; a family of a hundred brothers, but wholly acceptable through the rational eyes of our narrarator. But then ensues a masterful literary roller coaster ride through bizarre and surreal landscapes. And Antrim never leaves one room! Brilliant!
In his novels, Antrim has a way of establishing a simple and rational universe, then subtly and ironically, disseminating it bit by bit, gradually revealing an entirely new surreal and ridiculous world that lay beneath its original carapace. Antrim's writing indeed can twist one's mind and warp any sense of reality that may have managed to linger a few pages into the novel. His allegories are both ellusive and mischevious.
His humor is deep. It is infectuous and possesive. It may not make you snicker or giggle on the spot, but it will take seed and infest your thought processes, and cause episodes of deep pondering on the depth and subtext of Mr. Antrim's subtle hillarities. It is the type of Monty Pythonesque multi-textual humor that can quite possibly change your life.
The short length of Antrim's mono-chapteric novels fit his narrative perfectly; sprawling, circuituous, seguatious, a uniform current of brilliance that blends vignettes and episodes like an early Pink Floyd album. Still, at the close of an Antrim, novel, one can only thrist for more. The solution to this problem is only obvious: MORE NOVELS BY DONALD ANTRIM!
Most recent customer reviews
I've already written a review for this novel. Please delete this review.Published on June 26 2004 by Montese C.
What do you do when you can not write in depth about a subject or at least you can not depend on language to carry your work? Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2004 by Adam Hardin
Donald Antrim is profoundly original, as he continues to take the novel to a new place in literature. Not always a easy read but always fun and full of insights. Read morePublished on Nov. 23 2001 by Kim F. Hill
If this is what post-modern lit is all about, I'd rather be a pre-classicist. This book is essentially one big chapter about a hundred brothers reuniting for a dinner. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2001 by Sai Li
Of fraternity, perhaps familial goings-on, is theme of book, of "The Hundred Brothers," two possible thematic streams exploding from literary epicenter of Antrim's... Read morePublished on Nov. 28 2000