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Blue River

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  326 ratings  ·  30 reviews
"Blue River" tells the story of two brothers: Lawrence, brilliant but seething with anger, and Edward, responsible but cautious to a fault. To their mother, and to the world, Lawrence was always the bad brother, Edward always the good one. Over the years Edward has been both sustained and haunted by this perception; now a successful opthalmologist in his early thirties, hi ...more
Published November 1st 1992 by Warner Books (NY) (first published October 1st 1991)
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3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  326 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is a story of the relationship between two brothers.

When he was younger, Edward looked up to his brother, Lawrence. Years pass and Lawrence, who was six years older than Edward, leaves home and doesn't stay in communication with the family.

One day, he shows up at Edward's door. It's been fifteen years since Edward saw his brother. Currently, Edward is a successful eye-surgeon and Lawrence is an out of work card dealer.

Lawrence acts crazy in front of Edward's five year old son, Jonathan. Thi
Dec 18, 2009 rated it liked it
20 years ago I read Ethan Canin's first book - short stories. I was impressed. Here was a very talented 27 year old with a published book. So when I came across this novel at a used book sale in August, I remembered the author and had to buy the book. I believe this was his second book. It is quite good. He writes it from a very interesting and different perspective. It is the story of a younger brother struggling to understand his older brother twenty years after his childhood. In many ways it ...more
Jul 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Wickedness in Wisconsin - who knew? His collection of stories, "The Emperor of Air" was also pretty damned impressive.

So, the central mystery remains. How in God's name is someone as obviously smart and talented as Ethan Canin remain married to that obvious basketcase Aylet whatever the hell her name is? Just sayin'

Added on edit: Ive just learned that it is Michael Chabon, not Ethan Canin, who is married to Ayelet Waldman. The mystery underlying the earlier question r
Mar 04, 2009 rated it liked it
It's very rare that I don't finish a novel. I was about 5/6 through this book. Not sure why I didn't finish it, he's a good writer. I think I just stopped caring about the characters, and didn't have enough curiosity to see it through to the end.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I remember loving Ethan Canin's Emperor of the Air decades ago so thought I'd try his first novel. Although I am mesmerized by this author's gorgeous, visual prose, I found his descriptions so hyper-focused that they pulled me out of the story line. The pacing is also quite slow. I would, however, try another one of his novels even though this one dragged for me.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This realistic story of estranged brothers seeking compassion, understanding and reconciliation felt sad. The author seems to really get what it's like to grow up in a dysfunctional home. I would have liked to have seen a better conclusion. Maybe he plans to write a sequel....
Peter William Warn
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ethan Canin paints with words. His prose conveys both the rich textures of oils and the soft graces of watercolors.

Like all art that moves us, Canin's storytelling in Blue River is about its specific subjects and about more as well. It invites us to look beyond the images it presents and to reflect on other subjects at which it only hints. Canin's words, like a painter's brush strokes, free our thoughts to drift. When they touch back down, they enrich us.

There is beauty in Canin's art:

I have alw
Scott Pierce
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-1900s
I think this is Canin's first, or one of his first, published works, and for a boy who grew up in the midwest it struck home as a tale of 2 brothers and the paths their lives took.

The younger brother looking up at the older brother: "From my seat in the basement of St. Vitus Church I looked up at him standing at the podium, his voice keen and his eyes filled with a fierceness that made his heart seem true and unbendable at last."

the narrator to, I think, the older brother, "What was not your rea
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
i read the first two pages. It was really catchy and hooked me. it talks about how he walks into his house an sees a tall man that looks like a bum but after reading the prologue I learned that it his brother

His brother is very messy. his clothesz are really messy. He hasnt shaved so he has a long beard and a mustache. He is weird and doesnt talk much. he is mostly catching up with his brother. Im still crious as to why hes dressed an messy like a bum. The son is kinda shy. His name is jonathan
Leanne Clegg
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
That it has taken me three (3) weeks to read a book of under 200 pages should have been foretelling enough. And yet like a faithful dog, I kept returning anew to watch as the author most ambitiously, and quite commendably, attempted to chart the points at which his characters' choices collided with their destinies. But for all its aspiration, 'Blue River' is strictly businesslike and despite a few moments of beauty, was much less than thoroughly satisfying.
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I just like Ethan Canin's writing style. A man looks back on his life beginning as a young boy when he idolized his brother, who is 6 years older. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy a book simply because it is so well written. I actually enjoyed the story, although I see by the reviews here and elsewhere that many thought it was too slow. It is a short book, and I think it is worth reading.
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Edward finds himself taking midnight drives on the highway and closing his eyes for stretches of many seconds. He knows the turns of the road that well, but he also knows he’s taking his life in his hands. Read more:
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Although I like Ethan Canin's writing style, I was a little bored by this book about two brothers who are completely different. I read Canin's first book "Emperor of the Air" (a book of short stories) years ago and loved it - I would recommend it over "Blue River."
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story that conjures up compassion for anyone who has a sibling or is a parent to more than one child. I find myself asking what is it that makes children who were raised in the same family turn out so very different? More evidence for the fact we are more than our DNA.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I'm abandoning this one....mid-way through and it still isn't engaging for me. I've got way too many books on my list to feel obligated to finish the ones I just don't like...something I used to force myself to do.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Two brothers, a sister and their mother make up a family that lives in Blue River. The story revolves around the brothers, Lawrence and Edward. Edward is a successful doctor with a wife a young son. Lawrence shows up on his doorstep after being absent for 15 years.
Nov 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-fiction
This is probably a bit too meditative, too structured, study of two brothers, but Canin is an expert craftsman, a master storyteller.
Germaine Marie
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A quiet, beautifully written, novel. Not on my re-read list though, as it is quite a simple tale with more predictability than I would have liked.
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is very amazing. It's the best book I have ever read.
Oct 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a great change of pace from Canin's incredible short stories.
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Didn't enjoy it as much as his first novel but he is such a good writer that it is worth reading.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautiful prose, and an interesting use of the second-person narration. The novel is an interesting exploration of family relationships, fate, and good and evil.
Richard Jespers
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Author of Emperor of the Air. Engrossing novel.
Another solid Ethan Canin book -- my favorite is still Carry Me Across the Water!
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Excellent writing as always, huge fan of this guy.
Aug 19, 2007 rated it it was ok
Not my favorite Canin novel. Much of it is in second person, addressed to first-person narrator's brother.I struggled through.
Aug 14, 2009 rated it liked it
A good but not particularly memorable novel about two brothers seeking reconciliation.
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Canin always surprises me, in the best possible ways...
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Richard by: Winfield Danielson
excellent book. strong writer
rated it really liked it
Aug 01, 2007
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Highly regarded as both a novelist and a short story writer, Ethan Canin has ranged in his career from the "breathtaking" short stories of Emperor of the Air to the "stunning" novellas of The Palace Thief, from the "wise and beautiful" short novel Carry Me Across the Water to the "epic" America America. His short stories, which have been the basis for four Hollywood movies, have appeared in a wide ...more
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