I had a brother once A poem, a memoir

Adam Mansbach, 1976-

Book - 2021

"Adam Mansbach--a young and mostly unknown jazz musician, rapper, poet, screenwriter, and novelist - had just had his first brush with fame from a most unlikely source: a book of rhyming couplets about putting his young daughter to sleep that had improbably sold millions of copies and shot to the top of bestseller lists. Just as his dreams of writing success were coming true - interviews on late-night and morning shows, standing-room only events, an audiobook read by Samuel L. Jackson and W...erner Herzog (not all dreams make sense) - he received a call from his father, with news about his older brother, David. 'my father said david has taken his own life & i answered as if i didn't understand or hadn't heard. my reply was what? & he repeated it. there is plenty to regret & perhaps this is insignificant but i wish i had not made him say it to me twice.' This epic poem tells the story of a young man grappling with the death of his beloved and troubled older brother - but more than that, trying to understand the nature of love, family, and mortality itself. In his Go the Fuck to Sleep, Mansbach deftly captured for millions of readers the comic tension betweeen the love we have for our newborn children and the ways they drive us crazy; here, he uses that same sensitivity and ability to find a fresh language for common human experience to illuminate the search for meaning within grief at the other end of life. Mansbach finds himself facing a sudden void where once he brother stood without any way to make sense of the loss. This poem turns into his ritual of grief, his way of redeeming and understanding loss - and moving on"--

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Subjects
Genres
Poetry
Published
New York : One World [2021]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
170 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780593134795
0593134796
Main Author
Adam Mansbach, 1976- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Mere weeks before the release of Mansbach's runaway best-seller, Go the F**k to Sleep (2011), his younger brother took his own life. The author toured and promoted that hilarious parody of a children's book, all the while privately grieving this unthinkable loss. In this heartbreaking, brutally candid memoir, Mansbach employs long stanzas of free verse to recount events surrounding his brother's death, struggling through anger, sorrow, and confusion. Poetic conventions allow him to retreat into form, to distill the endless refrains of condolence in a way that recreates the time grief occupies in tragedy's immediate aftermath. As the speaker confides early on, before confronting the inevitable, "i would live / here in this preamble / forever." What follows is a series of emotional gut-punches, whether it be the brothers' Jewish ancestors ("the famous / rabbis' kids, the minyan-makers / of burlington vermont") looking down in disbelief or the father of the deceased sitting shiva while a Roman Catholic priest talks about his son. Throughout, Mansbach adds detached commentary that, while not exactly humorous, leavens the severity of the sudden loss. For an author who has written everything from screenplays to middle-grade novels to wildly popular picture books, this courageous and devastating memoir in verse stands out. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Mere weeks before the release of Mansbach's runaway best-seller, Go the F**k to Sleep (2011), his younger brother took his own life. The author toured and promoted that hilarious parody of a children's book, all the while privately grieving this unthinkable loss. In this heartbreaking, brutally candid memoir, Mansbach employs long stanzas of free verse to recount events surrounding his brother's death, struggling through anger, sorrow, and confusion. Poetic conventions allow him to retreat into form, to distill the endless refrains of condolence in a way that recreates the time grief occupies in tragedy's immediate aftermath. As the speaker confides early on, before confronting the inevitable, "i would live / here in this preamble / forever." What follows is a series of emotional gut-punches, whether it be the brothers' Jewish ancestors ("the famous / rabbis' kids, the minyan-makers / of burlington vermont") looking down in disbelief or the father of the deceased sitting shiva while a Roman Catholic priest talks about his son. Throughout, Mansbach adds detached commentary that, while not exactly humorous, leavens the severity of the sudden loss. For an author who has written everything from screenplays to middle-grade novels to wildly popular picture books, this courageous and devastating memoir in verse stands out. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Adam Mansbach--a young and mostly unknown jazz musician, rapper, poet, screenwriter, and novelist - had just had his first brush with fame from a most unlikely source: a book of rhyming couplets about putting his young daughter to sleep that had improbably sold millions of copies and shot to the top of bestseller lists. Just as his dreams of writing success were coming true - interviews on late-night and morning shows, standing-room only events, an audiobook read by Samuel L. Jackson and Werner Herzog (not all dreams make sense) - he received a call from his father, with news about his older brother, David. 'my father said david has taken his own life & i answered as if i didn't understand or hadn't heard. my reply was what? & he repeated it. there is plenty to regret & perhaps this is insignificant but i wish i had not made him say it to me twice.' This epic poem tells the story of a young man grappling with the death of his beloved and troubled older brother - but more than that, trying to understand the nature of love, family, and mortality itself. In his Go the Fuck to Sleep, Mansbach deftly captured for millions of readers the comic tension betweeen the love we have for our newborn children and the ways they drive us crazy; here, he uses that same sensitivity and ability to find a fresh language for common human experience to illuminate the search for meaning within grief at the other end of life. Mansbach finds himself facing a sudden void where once he brother stood without any way to make sense of the loss. This poem turns into his ritual of grief, his way of redeeming and understanding loss - and moving on"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A brilliant, genre-defying work—both memoir and epic poem—about the struggle for wisdom, grace, and ritual in the face of unspeakable loss.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A brilliant, genre-defying work—both memoir and epic poem—about the struggle for wisdom, grace, and ritual in the face of unspeakable loss“A bruised and brave love letter from a brother right here to a brother now gone . . . a soaring, unblinking gaze into the meaning of life itself.”—Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolfmy father saiddavid has taken his own lifeAdam is in the middle of his own busy life, and approaching a career high in the form of a #1 New York Times bestselling book—when these words from his father open a chasm beneath his feet. I Had a Brother Once is the story of everything that comes after. In the shadow of David’s inexplicable death, Adam is forced to re-remember a brother he thought he knew and to reckon with a ghost, confronting his unsettled family history, his distant relationship with tradition and faith, and his desperate need to understand an event that always slides just out of his grasp. This is an expansive and deeply thoughtful poetic meditation on loss and a raw, darkly funny, human story of trying to create a ritual—of remembrance, mourning, forgiveness, and acceptance—where once there was a life.