Brothers and Keepers: A Memoir

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9780618509638: Brothers and Keepers: A Memoir

A haunting portrait of lives arriving at different destinies, Brothers and Keepers is John Edgar Wideman’s seminal memoir about two brothers — one an award-winning novelist, the other a fugitive wanted for robbery and murder. Wideman recalls the capture of his younger brother Robby, details the subsequent trials that resulted in a sentence of life in prison, and provides vivid views of the American prison system.
A gripping, unsettling account, Brothers and Keepers weighs the bonds of blood, tenderness, and guilt that connect Wideman to his brother and measures the distance that lies between them.

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Review:

With novels like Damballah and Hiding Place, John Edgar Wideman began his career in an explicitly modernist vein--indeed, his chronicles of life in the Pittsburgh ghetto of Homewood had more than a trace of a Joycean accent. The autobiographical Brothers and Keepers, however, allowed the writer to find his own voice. Perhaps this dual portrait of the author and his brother Robby--serving, then and now, a life sentence for a murder committed during a bungled robbery--finally forced Wideman to fuse the modernist trappings of his earlier work with the storytelling traditions of African American culture. "My memories needed his," the author recalls. "Maybe the fact that we recall different things is crucial. Maybe they are foreground and background, propping each other up." In any case, the Rashomon-like result is a raw meditation on fate and family, as well as an indictment of our entire notion of crime and (especially) punishment.

From the Publisher:

"Like the Russian master [Dostoevsky], Wideman probes the torment of the soul....[He] is fashioning some of the most powerful literature today."--U.S. News and World Report

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