Synopses & Reviews
The highly anticipated second novel from the author of the internationally best-selling Twelve
Nick McDonell's Twelve created a sensation around the world, establishing its seventeen-year-old author as one of the new and important voices of his generation. The book sold over 300,000 copies, was published in twenty-four countries, and was hailed by the New York Times as "fast as speed, relentless as acid." The Third Brother is his highly anticipated second novel.
"The story is backpacker kids going to Bangkok to do ecstasy," Analect says. "Just don't get arrested."
Mike is interning in Hong Kong when his editor, a friend of his father's, gives him the assignment, and a mission: find Christopher Dorr, a brilliant journalist gone AWOL. So begins a propulsive journey that will take a young man grasping after his identity headlong through fast nights in Thailand, into the grip of family tragedy, and into the heart of September 11, 2001. Along the way he encounters a kaleidoscope of characters the Flying Circus, a hard-living band of journalists trying to expose the Thai government's murderous repression of drug dealers; Tweety, an inexplicably alluring prostitute hungry to leave her world of poverty and desperation; and the third brother, a mysterious, imaginary sibling created by Mike's haunted older brother. Through it all, Mike must come to terms with the legacies of his troubled family and privileged upbringing.
"He knew that if you grow up with money, you don't think about being rich and that the same is probably true of courage. But if you grow up with lies, you find out that some lies become true. Mike knew this and so did not lie. Except to himself, about his parents."
The Third Brother moves with the speed and purpose of a bullet through the complexities of life in a Third-World capital of illicit hedonism, to the unspeakable horror of 9/11, and to the polished life of academia, offering a devastating portrait of a family caught between love and turmoil, and of a young man stretching to come to terms with his past and to find his future.
"McDonell's first novel, published when he was 17, was an acclaimed 300,000-copy bestseller a daunting achievement for this emotionally intricate but iffy sophomore effort to match. The author of Twelve, now 21, is a bit too experienced to be a boy wonder, but he's not quite a mature writer, a 'twixt phase that bedevils this novel about tragic family secrets, sibling madness and the abrupt onset of adult responsibility. Part one of the rat-a-tat-tat tale most chapters are two or three pages is set in Thailand, where Mike, a well-bred Harvard freshman interning for the summer at a Hong Kong magazine, is researching a story on stoned Western travelers. Part two takes place back in Manhattan as September 11, 2001, nears: Mike's quarrelsome parents are dead in a house fire and his revered older brother, perhaps responsible for the blaze, is prone to paralyzing hallucinations. McDonnell has a knack for capturing place with sharp-eyed, vivid prose: scenes set in Bangkok's whirl of sex and drugs, and his evocation of 9/11 disbelief and horror are both charged with a reality that's reportorial in its authenticity. But the two halves of the novel, linked loosely by Mike's search for the truth about his family, don't quite gel. Agent, Melanie Jackson. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"McDonell, who at 17 made a splash with his debut Twelve, delivers an assured and heartfelt second....Engrossing, with indelible scenes and a protagonist to care about." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"McDonell offers a realistic bit of hope for his hero in the form of a faith assertion that older adolescents frequently find in the face of crisis. Teens who like the independence of Holden Caulfield will appreciate Mike." School Library Journal
"McDonnell is forging himself a place as this generation's champion of angst-riddled youth....A terrific novelist already, McDonnell is close to a spot at the table occupied by the likes of Barth, Bellow, Roth and Updike." Providence Journal
"McDonell has absorbed enough Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad and the like to have a fairly good sense of pacing and structure." San Francisco Chronicle
"McDonell is boldly explicit in his rendering of the World Trade Center catastrophe, but the tragedies he addresses mushroom beyond his control. McDonell is immensely talented; he is just not ready for the monumental. Few are." Booklist
Nick McDonell's Twelve created a sensation around the world, establishing its seventeen-year-old author as one of the new and important voices of his generation. The Third Brother is his highly anticipated second novel.
A news magazine intern sorts through the chaos of his life and the world around him after his parents' murder-suicide, and his brother's confession and suicide.
Nick McDonell's debut novel, Twelve,
was a publishing sensation. It was an international best seller and established its seventeen-year-old author as an important literary voice. In The Third Brother
, McDonell delivers another remarkable novel, a haunting tale of brotherly love, family tragedy, and national grief.
Mike was a lucky child: a vacation house on Long Island, famous family friends, an Ivy League education, and also an older brother, Lyle, who looked out for him. It's 2001, and Mike is a summer intern at a magazine in Hong Kong. Sent on assignment to Bangkok, Mike finds the city electric with violence and hedonism. Nothing goes according to plan. When terrible news about his brother arrives from home, Mike rushes back to the States. Lyle is unstable and suffering from visions of an imaginary third brother. And then, a clear September morning is broken by catastrophe. While the Twin Towers burn, Mike makes an epic trek through the ghostly streets of New York to find and save Lyle. From Patpong to the World Trade Center to Harvard Yard, as his life and country come apart, Mike struggles to find his footing and go on. The joke, it turns out, is on him.