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'"Vernon's greatest virtue is his style—smart, marvelously specific, insightful both about large issues and small ones." —Jane Smiley, The Boston Globe "Odd, yet engrossing, an almost dreamlike ramble through loss." —Kirkus Reviews "A novelist turns to science and history to explore, in this nonfiction excursion, the puzzle of his brother, Paul, whose distressingly pathological mind Vernon began to comprehend only after his brother's death." —The New York Times "A beautiful performance lit by stark, revealing bursts of language and delivered with the gravity of liturgy." —Publishers Weekly "The erudite Vernon calls on an immense fund of learning to integrate Paul's odd life into a sensible overall view of the world and its history. Thus, A Book of Reasons is both a meditation on a lost sibling and a wide-ranging essay on such seemingly disparate topics as tools, the circulatory system and the history of the thermometer, among many others . . . . Each topic in the book . . . fits organically into the text, being expertly woven together with the surrounding subject matter." —The Washington Post "I found John Vernon's account of the clutter in his brother's life—and the consequent ladders of thought and feeling erected from that 'foul rag-and-bone shop'—not only poignant but deeply gratifying. Vernon lifts us high, confronting basic questions about the nature of existence itself, and the peculiar objects that sustain this transient life. As ever, Vernon writes with clarity, poise, and grace." —Jay Parini, author of Benjamin's Crossing, The Last Station, and Robert Frost: A Life "John Vernon's impressive range gets wider and wider. He now offers a pensive, searching, candid book about a man going off to buy a thermometer at Wal-Mart and rediscovering the entire universe in the process. It is also, affectingly, a memoir of his dead brother and a vexed, calamitous life that ended too soon. These pages amount to an apocalyptic commonplace book bounded by three crucial months of searching and finding. Learned, articulate, and daringly concise." —Paul West "What a pleasure to read large thoughts that make the head swim—with irresolvable paradox, wild speculation, the human intelligence battling away at its cage . . . The culture badly needs more books of this kind—with real thinking, and without the sensationalism of sordid confessions, miserable childhoods, terminal diseases, sexual disaster, all catalogued without reference to any genuine ideas . . . .You should read this book. You will have more questions of your own." —The Hungry Mind Review "While these excursions might be informative and enlightening to people who did not study the topics in college—and even to those who did—the best thing A Book of Reasons gives us is a glimpse into the workings of a writer's mind . . . A Book of Reasons is inspired work indeed." —Salon'