“My Brother Walter” by Samanta Schweblin

Walter is depressed. His family knows this and makes great efforts to constantly keep him company. His family often (almost weekly) holds gatherings for the sole purpose of spending time with Walter. Here’s another thing: Walter is also lucky. Great things are accomplished whenever he’s around. What a guy.

For all of the effort of bringing everyone together for the sake of Walter, the family seems to care so much about Walter. Everyone seems to want to make sure that Walter is okay. Here’s another thought: they do not actually care about him.

Although the title of the story is “My Brother Walter,” it is not actually about not about Walter. It’s about the benefits Walter’s family members reap from his presence. The narrator has a false sense of sympathy towards his brother that masks the selfish motives the narrator and the rest of the family have.

“My Brother Walter” was a bit disturbing to read, but I found it thought-provoking. Similarly, the other stories I read in Mouthful of Birds also had the same eerie vibe. For a quick read, it had a long lasting aftertaste. So: this story was good read, but a reading full collection would be too unsettling for my liking.

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