Something’s Wrong

From sentence one, the narrator of “The Brother” took me into his confidence and shared—thoroughly—how he and his girlfriend spent their private Sundays. And there I was, worried, and listening, because something was wrong, and Eugene Cross’s writing is appealing and forthright and promises the facts but also the truth. I couldn’t look away. I’d been enlisted to understand. This is one of the things I love about writing: complicity with the reader, getting them into bed with your characters. In the same way that Sam, a guilt-ridden housepainter, chooses, monklike, to work alone, “following the sun around a house,” I followed the story around the events of a life that wants to atone for damage that can’t be fixed, only forgiven. And now I’m haunted too, by what I know. Sam’s not alone.

—Pia Z. Ehrhardt