“This is a brilliant, moving book, a mixture of free recollections and associations woven around two tremendous losses for the author, the loss of a lover, and subsequently the loss of a beloved brother, both caused by suicide.”
- Béla Buda, MD, PhD, Psychiatrist Crisis; Vol 25 (2)
“The light in that room was a glow: I seem to remember the color green, or perhaps flowers. A pale green sheet covered his inert body but not his head, which lay (eyes closed, mouth set in a tense and terrible grimace) unmoving. Gianluca. Barely able to see, barely able to stand – my knees kept buckling – and breathing so quietly I thought that I, too, might die; that out of shock, I would just drift away, the shell of my body cracking open, no longer anchored by my brother’s love, I would be reabsorbed by sky. Gianluca. If there was never another sound in the world, I would understand – yes, that would be appropriate, it would be fitting. This was the antithesis of music, the antithesis of noise. My brother’s death seemed to demand silence of all the world. Gianluca.
“His hair had always been light and thick and straight and strong: I enjoyed calling him The Toilet Brush. Stubborn and unresponsive to gels, it surged from his scalp like wheatgrass or beautifully manicured lawn. I later had the funeral home woman, Annie, snip a lock of it for me, but this lock was so glossy-straight that the strands wriggled from the string like fish: they would not be confined.
“My brother’s death-wish was something I had never heard, never suspected. Where I was independent and martial, he was a diplomat and conformed. (Dependent and ambivalent types are those associated with poor outcome.) Who would have predicted this, the ultimate of all rebellions? In comparison, I was as ordinary as dirt. (He used to say: You’ll end up living in the attic of my North Shore house – my mad sister, the poet and novelist. My kids will all be too scared to go upstairs.) His bid for freedom stunned me into white silence. Enough! He no longer wanted to play the role of Gianluca, and so wriggled from the skin like fish. Was he beside me in spirit? When the eyes of the flesh are shut, the eyes of the spirit are open. (Willa Cather, O Pioneers!)
“There were black markings on the left side of his face – the effects of the carbon monoxide, I wrongly guessed. Again, my knees buckled and my weight was supported by that slab. He’s hurt. The enormity of this moment dazed me. I touched his biceps through the sheet. He was wearing Birkenstocks, khaki cargo shorts, a blue-gray Real Player t-shirt: death as a grunge concert. (Women who kill themselves will dress for the occasion, but suicidal men like to keep it casual.) This was another way of stressing his unimportance. He hated suits – this is an unusual quality in investment bankers; many of them live to preen – and wore them only when necessary. I had never before seen his little goatee; it suited him. He looked improbably magnificent. This man had been my brother and here he was, a warrior in state. Once a boy with a big dandelion head, he had reached for my hand: now he was dead.”
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