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I promised my mother I would find my brother

Over the past few days, the idea of brotherly love has sent us conflicting signals. There were two touching tales of reunions, one involving the gorillas Kesho and Alf who were brought back together at Longleat after three years apart, and the other involving two American brothers, Ed Muir and Kenneth Corcoran, who were brought back together after an 80-year separation. The gorillas and the elderly people were ecstatic to see one other again. However, the Gallagher brothers are at it again, with Noel calling Liam’s band Beady Eye a “Oasis tribute band” after they played a cover of Wonderwall at the Olympic closing ceremony. These three sets of brothers depict the antagonism and affectionate extremes of sibling relationships.
Based on my connection with my older brother, Jeff, both extremes are shown in my book Under the Same Stars. I would have happily used a pitchfork to run my brother through well into my early adulthood. I have never been more fond of anyone on earth. Why does this familial connection elicit such strong feelings? Of course, the same question applies to sisters as well, but I chose to focus on brothers instead because my connection with my brother served as the inspiration for the book and also because brothers have received less literary attention than sisters. For example, there aren’t many books like Three Sisters or Pride and Prejudice. However, ever since Cain and Abel, a story that shockingly ends in gruesome murder, western culture has tended to emphasize the inherent friction in fraternal relationships. Other times in the Bible, this less idealized portrayal of brothers may be found, most notably in the tales of the Prodigal Son, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers.

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