Brotherly Love: A Novel by Pete DexterBrotherly Love: A Novel by Pete Dexter

Brotherly Love: A Novel

byPete Dexter

Paperback | November 4, 2014

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In the City of Brotherly Love, a car skids off the ice and ignites a chain of events that changes everything for eight-year-old Peter Flood. Peter’s father is a powerful man, a union boss with mob connections, but all the power in the world is useless to a grieving son. Raised by his uncle, Peter tries to distance himself from the casual brutality of the family business, gravitating instead toward a small South Philly gym. Peter’s cousin Michael—his “brother”—moves in another direction: into small-time intimidation and the trappings of a union prince. Neither, however, can outrun the logic of violence as they’re dragged into a world of bad blood and a chilling cycle of betrayal and retribution.
Praise for Brotherly Love
“A first-rate novel and a masterly evocation of that undercivilized and unfree America . . . The grace and confidence of [Pete Dexter’s] prose conveys absolute authenticity.”The New York Times Book Review
“Enviably artful work—carefully wrought, canny in its insights, sly in its presentation, sneaky in its revelations.”Chicago Tribune
“Extraordinarily poignant . . . Brotherly Love is all bulletproof prose and flinty-eyed bravissimo. . . . But the quieter, sadder aspects of the novel are its strongest points.”The Boston Globe
“Tautly and often exquisitely written.”Los Angeles Times
Pete Dexter is the author of the National Book Award–winning novel Paris Trout as well as Spooner, Paper Trails, God’s Pocket, Deadwood, Brotherly Love, and Train. He has been a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Sacramento Bee, and has contributed to many magazines, including Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy. Hi...
Title:Brotherly Love: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8 × 5.19 × 0.61 inPublished:November 4, 2014Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812987349

ISBN - 13:9780812987348


Read from the Book

Peter Flood is eight years old, dressed in tennis shoes and a jacket that is too light against the cold and the wind. He dresses himself now; his mother is always tired.   A thin crust of snow lies across the yard, and his sister’s fresh footprints lead from the front steps to the spot where she is standing, studying her mitten. Here and there the grass has broken through, and he notices the patches of damp, bent blades—tired, he thinks, from fighting through to the air. And he understands that, not wanting to be covered.   His sister moves, pulling his attention. She squats on chubby legs, rocking a moment for balance, and then slowly brings the snow to her face, her mouth opening a long time before the mitten arrives.   She pulls her hand away, staring at it. Snow sticks to the mitten and it drools down her chin. She looks up at him, her lips are wet and red, and she smiles. He sees dirt in her tiny front teeth, and in a moment it is on her chin too, and then it drips onto the front of her parka.   “Col,” she says.   She watches him until he returns her smile, waits for it like a signal, and then, when he has given that to her, she closes the mitten around a stone and brings that to her mouth too.   There is a park across the street; he is not allowed to go there without his father. He has watched other children playing alone in the park—there are some there now—but he understands, without being told, that his life is not like theirs, that he is someone who has to stay in the yard.   He notices a man now, sitting on his heels, boxing with a boy who can barely walk.   His sister stands up, rocking as she achieves balance, and then takes a few steps away from him, in the direction of the “street. She looks over her shoulder, teasing him, knowing he will chase her now and catch her before she is out of the yard, and carry her back to the steps.   Her head turns and she begins to run.   He crosses the yard in a few strides, his tennis shoes breaking holes in the snow. She shrieks as she hears him behind her, and ducks her head into her shoulders, waiting for the feel of his hand on her hood.   And then he touches it, careful not to take any of the hair underneath, and stops her. He puts his arm around her waist and lifts her off the ground, and feels the sudden change in her as he carries her back to the steps.   She screams at him, “No!”   And he feels the heels of her rubber boots kicking against his legs, and understands that in this moment she would kill him if she could.   And then a moment later, back on her feet in the snow, she smiles at him again and tries to say his name.   “Peener.”   He sees the dog mess then—that’s what his mother calls it, dog mess, but he knows the real word—lying in a smoking pile as big as the animal’s head on the other side of the driveway. There is no snow on the dog mess, and it glistens in the sun.”   Peter feels a familiar tightening in his legs and looks across the street into the park again, listening for the sound of tags on a collar. He is afraid of dogs, especially this dog, but he keeps it hidden. Somehow he is expected not to be afraid of dogs, just as he is expected to stay in the yard.   There is nothing as clear to him as what he is expected to be.   The dog itself is white and has red eyes, crusted black in the corners, and when it looks at Peter, everything inside the animal is in those eyes, all of it held back by a single thread, something he has been taught. And the boy can feel the dog straining against the thread, and knows that nothing the animal has been taught will change what it is.   The man who owns the dog lives in the house next door. The place smells of garlic, even from the sidewalk, and there is always polka music coming from inside. Peter sees the man pounding the animal’s chest sometimes, and pulling its ears and throwing balls across the street into the park for it to retrieve. Sometimes he invites Peter to touch the dog himself—“C’mon, Paulie, he don’t bite nobody but crooks. He’s trained.…”   The man calls him Paulie, sometimes Phil. He remembers his father’s name, though. Mr. Flood.   And Peter will walk across the driveway and touch the animal’s head, his fingers in the matted coat, while everything inside the dog is in his eyes, held back by the thread, something he learned from this man who cannot remember his name.   “See? He don’t bite, he likes you.…”   “Peter looks up the street now, looks for the man’s car. The sound of it will draw the dog from the alleys of the neighborhood, from the hidden places behind the house and the yard where Peter lives. It is a red car with black tires—not whitewalls, he gets his tires from the police garage—and a top that comes down in the summer. An antenna is fastened to the trunk.   He looks for the car, but it isn’t there.   His sister falls suddenly, for no reason he can see, and lands on her bottom. There are diapers under her snow pants. She looks at him a moment, waiting to see if she is hurt, and decides she is not.   “Boom,” she says.   She stands up, her hands flat against the ground as she straightens her legs. The snow has stuck to her bottom and the spit on her chin has turned the color of mud.   And then he hears the car, distinctly hears it, coming faster than it should and from the wrong direction. As he turns toward the sound, his sister bolts—a hundred disjointed movements collected in a white bundle and headed for the street. He hears her shriek even before he moves to reel her in.   And as he moves, he sees the dog. It has heard the sound of the car too, and comes from behind the man’s house, tail and chin in the air, half running. The dog spots Peter and stops, lowering its head until Peter can see the bones of its shoulders.   Peter stops too, unable to move. The animal’s lips pull back, almost a smile, and it fixes its eyes on the boy and forgets the car and the man and everything else. It only bites crooks, the man says, but there is a secret between Peter and the dog the man does not know.”   He sees his sister now, a movement somewhere beyond the dog, crossing the yard toward the street. She squeals, sensing that she’s gotten away. He tries to go after her, but the dog is waiting for him now, waiting for him to move so that it can move too.   He tries, but he cannot make his feet do what they will not do. He hears the car again, closer, moving too fast. It crosses his line of vision still in the street, hits ice and skids into Peter’s yard.   His sister has slowed, is turning to see if he is chasing her, to ask why she has won the game. And she is looking back at him, drooling dirt and smiling, when the car picks her up and throws her into the sky.   He watches her ride through the air, rolling once as she comes to him, a splash of red on her white parka now, her feet apart and disconnected like one of her dolls. Her eyes are open, looking someplace he cannot see.

Editorial Reviews

“A first-rate novel and a masterly evocation of that undercivilized and unfree America . . . The grace and confidence of [Pete Dexter’s] prose conveys absolute authenticity.”—The New York Times Book Review   “Enviably artful work—carefully wrought, canny in its insights, sly in its presentation, sneaky in its revelations.”—Chicago Tribune   “Extraordinarily poignant . . . Brotherly Love is all bulletproof prose and flinty-eyed bravissimo. . . . But the quieter, sadder aspects of the novel are its strongest points.”—The Boston Globe   “Tautly and often exquisitely written.”—Los Angeles Times