Teresa's Reviews > The Brothers K

The Brothers K by David James Duncan
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
541416
's review
Jan 25, 15

Read in April, 2012

It may be different for other people, but we in our green youth have to settle the eternal questions first. (Quote from "The Brothers Karamazov" used to head a chapter in this novel.)

I started this book after finishing The Art of Fielding. Not wanting to leave that world, I thought this book would be a good follow-up; and though this novel is an American (especially of the Pacific Northwest) epic, while the other is an American (specifically Midwestern) sliver of time, I was right. Here was another I didn't want to end, one of those books I start reading more slowly near the end because of that, though the ending was completely satisfying.

The writing is funny, smart and heartfelt. I laughed; I teared up. Some of the passages may seem extraneous at first, but none of it is; it's impressive how well-structured this novel is.

It's been awhile since I read Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov" but even I could tell the parallels are intentional of course, though not complete of course, (the K in the title is also because of a baseball scoring symbol, as I expected) but that doesn't take away from the originality of the world Duncan has created, though both novels do seem to contain 'everything.'

I don't think you need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this book. I'm not a fan of fishing, but those few references also seem intrinsic. The main pleasure is in the dynamics and intricacies of a family of two parents with vastly different ideas (mostly about religion) and their six children: four boys and two sisters (which almost sounds as if I'm describing my family though except for the way the brothers are described in the beginning, I felt no real comparisons) coming of age during the time of the Vietnam War, and the different paths each young man takes due to the war, and the effects each path has on the rest of the family, as a family.

This is definitely a book I could reread: it contains so much. And don't feel you need to read The Brothers Karamazov first; you don't.
13 likes · Likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Brothers K.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Anne (new)

Anne Oh, this is way up high on my tbr. I can't wait to hear what you think of it.


message 2: by Teresa (last edited Apr 05, 2012 02:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Anne wrote: "Oh, this is way up high on my tbr. I can't wait to hear what you think of it."

I knew there was baseball in it, so I thought it might be a good choice right now since I feel like I'm still living in The Art of Fielding!


message 3: by Anne (new)

Anne I forgot about the baseball! That's funny. Are you trying to extend The Art of Fielding?


Teresa Anne wrote: "I forgot about the baseball! That's funny. Are you trying to extend The Art of Fielding?"

I suppose I am trying to do that, in a way :)


message 5: by Anne (new)

Anne Or you just love baseball.


message 6: by Teresa (last edited Apr 05, 2012 04:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Anne wrote: "Or you just love baseball."

Well, I do :) but I want more than that in a novel, and I have a feeling this one can provide it, as did the other.


message 7: by Anne (new)

Anne Of course! :)


Teresa Anne wrote: "Of course! :)"

Now that I've read some of it, Anne, I can tell you I'm finding the voice engaging and it's definitely pulling me into the time and place. The interaction of the 4 brothers in some ways is reminding me of my own 4 brothers when we were young.


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne Glad to hear that it's engaging. Wow. Four brothers. No wonder you like baseball! :)


message 10: by Teresa (last edited Apr 06, 2012 10:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Teresa Anne wrote: "Glad to hear that it's engaging. Wow. Four brothers. No wonder you like baseball! :)"

Well, it was really because of my dad (similar to the dad in this book), but yeah! ;)

Also wanted to say that with one brother already, though he's still young, I can see a parallel with The Brothers Karamazov, though it's been awhile since I read it.


message 11: by Anne (new)

Anne I'm very bad. I've never read The Brothers Karamazov. I've started it many times, tho. I'm not surprised that there are parallels. Maybe I need to read the Russian book first?


Teresa Anne wrote: "I'm very bad. I've never read The Brothers Karamazov. I've started it many times, tho. I'm not surprised that there are parallels. Maybe I need to read the Russian book first?"

Don't know. It's probably one of those things where it's not necessary, but it would be a more enriching read if you did.


message 13: by Anne (new)

Anne That's what I was thinking. I'll have to think about this.


message 14: by Anne (new)

Anne Great review, Teresa.


Teresa Thanks, Anne. Whenever you end up reading it, I hope you like it as much as I did.


message 16: by Anne (new)

Anne Me too!


Teresa Anne wrote: "Me too!"

I certainly don't want to add to Sue D's TBR ;) (and esp with such a big book) but I think she would like it too!


message 18: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma I'm always wary of novels that parallel novels that I haven't read. However, I like the sound of this. I haven't the slightest intention of reading The Brothers Karamazov so I will have to let those references pass me by, I guess (or read Cliff's notes).


Teresa I don't think you'll even notice that you're 'missing' anything, Tajma. He does reference Dostoevsky through the dialogue and interests of a couple of the characters, and in occasional chapter headings, but he also quotes baseball players and managers in some chapter headings. It's insightful and fun.


message 20: by Tajma (new) - added it

Tajma Good to know, Teresa. I'm placing an Amazon order now!


James Murphy Wow, Teresa. You make it sound exciting. It so happens I'm between books right now and casting around for the next (yes, a deliberate fishing reference). I know we've been in a little bit of a Duncan conversation lately, what with this and the Mickey Mantle Koan you sent me. You might enjoy his first novel, The River Why. Not about baseball but about fishing, but it features Duncan's sideways, philosophical insight. Great review.


Teresa James wrote: "Wow, Teresa. You make it sound exciting. It so happens I'm between books right now and casting around for the next (yes, a deliberate fishing reference). I know we've been in a little bit of a D..."

Thanks, Murph. It seems to me that this book addresses a lot of themes that you're interested in.


message 23: by Ann (new)

Ann Dostoevsky writings are beyond me and You know my expereience is not much with baseball (or any sport)So what is in this book about Food?


Teresa Ann wrote: "Dostoevsky writings are beyond me and You know my expereience is not much with baseball (or any sport)So what is in this book about Food?"

Good question, Ann, since I did say the book was about 'everything.' ;) I would say the important thing about food in this book is the dynamic of family meals when the father is and then isn't there. There's also another communal meal with family and friends 'on the road,' which provides a metaphor, and the catching of fish that provides a meal. Oh, yes, and one character buying the ingredients for a lasagna (with the help of an Italian grocer) that he hopes to console himself with.


back to top