A Book of Reasons

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 292 pages
In this "heartwarming tale of brotherly love" (WALL STREET JOURNAL), John Vernon "lifts us high, confronting basic questions about the nature of existence itself and the peculiar objects that sustain this transient life" (Jay Parini). When his reclusive brother Paul died, Vernon came face to face with a life he had never suspected. He found his brother's house in a state of squalid disrepair: piled high with a lifetime of trash, littered with animal corpses and excrement, unheated and decrepit. An assembly worker in the electronics industry and an amateur inventor, Paul had managed to keep his private world hidden from his family and acquaintances.
The love between brothers is an unconditional love -- unearned, and realized almost always from a distance. Who really was this man that writer and teacher John Vernon loved? How could a childhood so full of promise turn wrong? Why do we collect things; what use do they have? How do we make and understand our world? In search of answers, this "superb writer" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE) leaps from one odd, individual life to all our lives and the things that clutter them, with excursions through the history of science, anatomy, and mythology. The result is revelatory, a brilliant account of the extraordinary source of everyday things.
"An artful lamentation of two remarkable worlds" (VILLAGE VOICE), A BOOK OF REASONS is John Vernon's devastatingly tender memoir about coming to terms with the fact that the people we love most are often the people we know the least about. It is also a daring exploration of loss and self-discovery.

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A book of reasons

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The sudden death of Vernon's reclusive brother is the starting point of this extraordinary memoir. Novelist Vernon (Peter Doyle) states that his goal was to write a memoir of the things he learned ... Read full review



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About the author (2000)

John Vernon is the author of the novels La Salle, Lindbergh's Son, Peter Doyle, and All for Love: Baby Doe and Silver Dollar. The recipient of two NEA fellowships, he teaches at SUNY Binghamton. His work has been published in Harper's Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday, and The Nation. The author currently resides in Vestal, New York.

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