Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Top ten books about brothers

James Runcie is an award-winning documentary film-maker and the author of four novels. East Fortune, his new novel, is available now in the UK and coming soon to North America.

For the Guardian, he named his top ten books about brothers. His introduction:
A long time ago, a friend at a publishing house told me to stop "mucking about" and write about family life. 'It's the only real subject. BIG TIP.'

So I've followed her advice and written East Fortune, a novel about three brothers. I did think I was doing something a bit different until I realised there were hundreds of novels about, ahem, brothers and family life. You can't beat it as a subject: submerged emotions, intense rivalries, unrealistic expectations, differing levels of secrecy, betrayals both major and minor, and the genetic identity we can never escape. And if you then factor in the male ego, and tell a story of brotherly love and resentment then surely you can't go too far wrong?
One title on the list:
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

First published in 1929, Faulkner created his "heart's darling", the beautiful and tragic Caddy Compson, whose story is told through separate monologues by her three brothers: the congenital "idiot" Benjy, the neurotically suicidal Quentin and the monstrous Jason. An intensely passionate novel about loneliness, selfishness, and unreliability, this is, essentially, Virginia Woolf on drugs.
Read about Number One on Runcie's list.

The Sound and the Fury also appears on Mario Batali's list of five great American books.

Visit James Runcie's website.

--Marshal Zeringue