Austin, a self-deprecating but aspiring screenwriter in his early thirties. Somewhat romantic, he works by candlelight in his vacationing mother’s house, creating a “simple love story” to complete a film deal with producer Saul Kimmer, toward whom he is respectful and sycophantic. Conventionally educated at an Ivy League college, Austin inhabits a neat world constructed of middle-class values of rationality, self-discipline, and hard work. This world is threatened by the arrival of his brother Lee, the object of Austin’s sibling envy and repressed hostility. As Lee insinuates himself into Austin’s territory, Austin becomes increasingly insecure. Adopting Lee’s behavior, speech, and profession in a complete character transformation, he abandons his film project and becomes roaring drunk, thereby unleashing an inventiveness previously stifled by his intellectuality. With a burst of bravado, he steals every toaster in the neighborhood in an attempt to outperform Lee’s nefarious activities. Now uncertain of his identity and believing himself unable to exist in modern society, he bargains to return to the desert with Lee. When Lee reneges on the promise, Austin’s civilized veneer shatters, exposing a murderous violence beneath.
Lee, Austin’s menacing older brother. He is in his forties and scruffily dressed. He has just returned from several months of nomadic existence in the desert with only a...
(The entire section is 542 words.)