Rhonda Johnson
October 22, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Book of Reasons

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
John Vernon
genre
Biography, Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

When he inherited his older brother Paul’s southern New Hampshire ranch house, novelist Vernon was horrified to find a decrepit hovel piled with human excrement, pornography, and the corpses of dead pets. Setting out to explain his brother’s fate, Vernon balks at the rot of unfulfilled promise that his brother’s life represented. He frequently interrupts his recollections to deliver odd asides, like the history of the thermometer and the workings of the circulatory system (Paul died of an aneurysm).

While these retreats into dispassionate research may comfort Vernon, they dilute an otherwise powerful, moving personal history. B+

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