Charles Neumiller, the narrator, whose recollections of his youth record a Neumiller family history. He is an alcoholic whose marriage has ended, and his life is a shambles. In his spiritual agony, he admits his loss and readiness for death as he writes his memoirs for his beloved brother Jerome, to whom the title refers. Although the Neumiller family is poor, his remembrances of his childhood in North Dakota are generally happy, the one dark cloud being his mother Alpha’s fears that he is too headstrong. A family move to Illinois sets the stage for tragedy. Alpha dies in childbirth. When the boys are in high school, Charles and Jerome’s father, Martin, becomes critically ill. Charles is seriously injured in an automobile accident, and Jerome remains steadfast in his devotion to Charles during his long recovery period. In the throes of his blooming sexuality and despite his father’s warnings, Charles becomes sexually involved with Bobbi Gilette, who is devastated when he drops her. When Jerome goes off to college, Charles pursues his interest in drama and discovers a talent for writing. He wins a state competition for an original monologue. He follows Jerome to college. His relationship with Rick Purkeet, a homosexual friend, and his romance with Jill Jarvis contribute to his development of a destructive drinking problem. Jill’s advances to Jerome lead to the brothers’ first real schism. When Jerome goes on to medical school, a rudderless Charles leaves college. Naturally gifted, he builds a successful radio...
(The entire section is 637 words.)