My Brother's Name

My Brother's Name

by Laura Krughoff




Jane Fields has idolized her older brother, John, since they were children. She follows in his footsteps as a drummer, and when he suffers a psychotic break as a young man, she follows him into the bewildering landscape of mental illness.

Surrendering to John’s schizophrenic and elliptical logic, Jane assumes her older brother’s identity, and begins to make a life for herself as a young man named John. Every day, Jane interacts with the world as John, and then comes home to tell her brother the stories of his own life, under the naïve and perhaps mad hope that these stories will help John remember and return to the self he lost. But in the act of being John, Jane runs the risk of becoming him. Jane soon identifies more strongly with the man she’s become than the overshadowed woman she once was. When John begins to demand that Jane give up certain aspects of the life she’s built under her assumed identity, particularly a romance, Jane’s double life becomes a house of cards that threatens to collapse. Jane and John are forced to confront the limits of their ability to control each other, and the world around them, through the stories they tell—but just how deep into mental illness can Jane slide?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780983021940
Publisher: Mighty Media, Inc.
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Laura Krughoff is a fiction writer whose work has been appearing in literary magazines and journals over the past decade. Her stories have been published in prestigious American venues such as Threepenny Review, The Seattle Review, Washington Square Review, and Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, and internationally in the feminist Canadian magazine Room of One’s Own (now known as Room Magazine). She is a recipient of the Washington Square Prize for Fiction for her story “This Is One Way,” a Pushcart Prize for her story “Halley’s Comet” and a runner-up for a Nelson Algren Award from Chicago Tribune for her story “The Beekeeper’s Son.” In 2011, she was a finalist for the University of Georgia Press Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She also writes and performs non-fiction with the story-telling performance collaborative Second Story. Laura is a writer, scholar, and teacher, living in Chicago, Illinois.

Read an Excerpt

I did not grow up in my brother’s shadow. I grew up in his light. I have been John’s sister since the very beginning. He was not yet four when I was born, but he claims to remember the event. He remembers naming me. He tells the story of my naming as if that morning still shimmers, a perfect mirage, in his memory. Our father dropped John off at an elderly neighbor’s house on the afternoon before I was born. John says it was terrible to have been left behind, that the woman was strange and her house dusty, that he feared our parents would not return for him. He says he thought about me a great deal, that he imagined me just as I turned out to be.

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Years later, after his first break, after dropping out of college and being locked down in a psychiatric hospital, after one terrible round of medications after another, after stabilizing briefly and then secretly flushing his meds, after our mother and father started saying things like, “Well, what do we do? I’m honestly asking, what are our options here? For god’s sake, what do you think we should do?” at night, when they thought they were alone, when they thought I was in bed, I thought about how John used to spread his wings for me. I was out of high school, taking classes at a community college, working at a coffee shop, waiting for John to get well so I could figure out what to do with myself, when John started talking about the two of us making a break for it.

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A gusty, poignant, bold and nuanced debut, Laura Krughoff’s big talent tackles mental illness, gender identity, and the intricacies of the American middle-class family." — Cris Mazza, author of Various Men Who Knew us as Girls

Customer Reviews