Ted Prokash employs a rich, poetic voice to tell his story of middle America, giving The Brothers Connolly the quality of an epic. His narrator breaks this novel free of its small-town confines. The writing, here, is the main event.
Prokash is skillful and convincing in his portrayal of life in Napawaupee, Wisconsin. He renders with equal affection the artist’s struggle (Jack Connolly); athletic pursuit, conquest, and glory (Bobby and Jim); and youth’s pitiable romantic angst (Teddy). And his townspeople—the chronic drunk, the cruel and withering mother, the single father, the closeted homosexual, the teachers and students and coaches of the high school so central in football season to the lives of these middle class role models—cut as dynamic and full a presence as the narrator’s textured storytelling.
Jack, the oldest, slinks back home—without making it feel like slinking—after two decades in New York fruitlessly pursuing success as a playwright. He takes up residence above Belgy’s bar, one floor up from where his father installs himself daily on a stool to drain mugs of Pabst. Before an audience of dead venison Jack develops his next great artistic vision: “Jack floated around the apartment on a crazy cloud. He paced along the close walls of his little living space as his mind raced along the interminable rim of an exploding universe. His body bounced about his rooms, trying to keep up with the mad rush of his thoughts.”