Being from the East Coast of Canada and not reading David Adams Richards seems like a bit of a crime (no pun intended), but in my case, it’s the truth. In full disclosure, I was tasked with having to read Mercy Among the Children for a Canadian Literature course, but I didn’t get around to it… I know, I’m a bad English Major. So when everyone in our office was raving about the new David Adams Richards novel, Crimes Against My Brother (on sale next Tuesday), I wanted to finally get on the DAR train and hear what all the fuss was about and I’m so glad I did, because now, I get why people classify him as a literary great. Crimes Against My Brother was a complex, smart, sad and wonderful novel.
Here’s a brief description from Goodreads:
Harold, Evan and Ian are inseparable as boys–so much so that one night, abandoned in the forest by the careless adults around them, and raging against society and the uncaring gods others worship, they seal their undying brotherhood with a blood bond. But soon after, a horrific accident scars each of them in a different way, testing their bonds and leaving each with a debt to be paid. As adults, seeking to rise above debt and advance in life, each man decides upon a very different path–but over time, all three discover they are tied to each other in intricately tangled, sometimes violent, and surprising ways that none of them has been wise enough to foresee.
Debt is the recurring theme in this 416 page novel and as we all know, debt can make people do unimaginable things and act in unthinkable ways. As the description states, all three boys share a blood bond, but the bond quickly falls apart when money gets involved. The town hustler, Lonnie Sullivan, has a system down pat when it comes to making money. He gives the boys (never men, he learned that lesson the hard way) an advance and those poor boys are forced to work long, hard hours to try to pay it back. Of course, they are never able to get ahead.
The act of wanting and needing more grows as the boys get older. Now with relationships with women forming, these young men take different paths to form a quick buck. There were times while reading that I was frustrated with the characters. For instance, each character (in the first part of the book) is vying to get their hands on a fortune that one man by name of Fitzroy, has piled up in his home. None of the men have earned this money, they haven’t worked for it at all, but Ian, Evan and Harold feel entitled to receive it. The whole time I was reading this part, I kept thinking, “but why do you think you deserve that money?” but as I continued to read on, I quickly realized that I think that was the point David Adams Richards was trying to make. It’s not their money, but their sense of entitlement comes from greed and their greed blinds them of any moral obligation.
I’ve been chatting about this book a lot with my pal Shona (be sure to follow her on Twitter @wayfaringreader). After three separate discussions, we both discovered that this book has a little something for everyone in it; Canadian backdrop, small town, love, greed, mystery and intrigue. We actually have so much to say about this book that we’re going to be recorded ourselves chatting about the book and our reactions on audio. Give it a listen here.
I felt smarter for having read this novel and I was disappointed in my twenty year old self for not having read David Adams Richards sooner. It was a complex, fascinating read that will leave you wanting to put it a friend’s hands just so you can discuss it with them when you finish.
*It’ll be on sale on May 13, 2014.