Before You Know Kindness
By Chris Bohjalian
Random House Large Print (October 5, 2004)
If you imagine most writer's bathrooms (and this is probably a mistake) you'd picture damp towels in a clump on the floor, hair in the soap, a few mildewed paperbacks stacked on the counter. But it's impossible to picture Chris Bohjalian's bathroom as anything but an Architectural Digest centerfold: polished counters, not a stray thread on the plush towels, the modulated colors sparked to life by fresh flowers from a neighbor's garden.
Bohjalian's eighth novel, Before You Know Kindness, is a beautifully observed, delicately balanced portrait of a family that could only come from the hands of a tireless craftsman who keeps reaching into his story to straighten the tulips or tuck in a shirttail. It begins with two EMTs leaning over animal rights' activist Spencer McCullough's gushing shotgun wound and winds back through the ordinary days leading up to the extraordinary accident, and then forward again as Spencer and his family come to terms with what has happened. As ambitious as other Bohjalian novels, Before You Know Kindness spirals out to encompass the larger issues of Spencer's political loyalties and the heartless, passionate world of political spin. Some readers may find Bohjalian's style too smooth. Others will relish the completeness of his vision and his obvious tenderness for even the most difficult of his characters.
From the Inside Flap
For ten summers, the Seton family—all three generations—met at their country home in New England to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton, and golf, and savoring gin and tonics on the wraparound porch to celebrate the end of the season. In the eleventh summer, everything changed. A hunting rifle with a single cartridge left in the chamber wound up in exactly the wrong hands at exactly the wrong time, and led to a nightmarish accident that put to the test the values that unite the family—and the convictions that just may pull it apart.
Before You Know Kindness is a family saga that is timely in its examination of some of the most important issues of our era, and timeless in its exploration of the strange and unexpected places where we find love.
As he did with his earlier masterpiece, Midwives, Chris Bohjalian has written a novel that is rich with unforgettable characters—and absolutely riveting in its page-turning intensity.
About the Author
CHRIS BOHJALIAN is the bestselling author of nine novels, including Midwives (a Publishers Weekly Best Book and an Oprah’s Book Club selection), The Buffalo Soldier, and Trans-Sister Radio, as well as Idyll Banter, a collection of his magazine essays and newspaper columns. His work has been translated into seventeen languages and published in twenty countries. He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.