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Chang and Eng

A book by Darin Strauss.

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Facinating story of conjoined twins

  • Jun 3, 2010
Rating:
+3
This book was very interesting, though at times quite depressing. During the period preceding the civil war, a pair of conjoined twins from Siam are brought to the US to perform by an explotative American. They eventually managed to escape him, and achieve some level of fame and fortune around the world. The pair eventually come to a small town in North Carolina, where they manage to marry a pair of sisters who were pariahs of sorts because of an affair with a black man.

Told from the perspective of Chang, the more introspective of the two men, we follow the twins through their early childhood to their later life as they settle down and have a prodigous number of children. The thing that's particularly sad is that they never seem to find happines no matter what they do, because their unbreakable bond sets them apart. In particular, Eng turns to alcohol later in his life, and this of course has a huge effect of Chang, as they share a stomache.

As I understand it, this book is only loosely based on history. Although it's hard to believe, the pair really did get married though and produced something like 22 children! The author did an amazing job of taking the bare facts and turning them into a credible story. I particularly liked how he characterized Chang and Eng's feelings about being attached. One thing I kind of got stuck on was how the twins would have been intimate w/ their seperate wives- it's very difficult for me to imagine how they would have navigated this part of their lives.

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June 03, 2010
Yes, their story is absolutely fascinating! Actually, I find all conjoined twin stories fascinating. I've read about Chang and Eng on Wikipedia before and often wondered how they did a lot of every day things in their life. I might just have to check out this book. Thanks for sharing!
 
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More Chang and Eng: A Novel reviews
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
Fascinating story of the first Siamese twins to live and make a living by being conjoined.
review by . June 26, 2010
Change & Eng is a fictional story based on the life of the greatest show on earth in the 1800's, the co-joined Siamese Twins. Woven from historical fact, Strauss uses great imagination to fill in the specifics of their lives. The story follows their discovery where they were moved from a squalid houseboat on the McKong River into the palace as entertainment for the King of Siam. Later they toured the world as the greatest freak show on earth and even went on to marry two sisters and birth …
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Val Satula ()
Ranked #1788
I'm a big book worm...read everything I can get my hands on! =)
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About this book

Wiki

Narrated by Eng, one of a pair of conjoined twins,Chang and Engis a daring novel that constantly threatens to lose its balance. It's also one that would be hard to believe were it not rigorously grounded in historical fact. Like the (literally) inseparable protagonists of Darin Strauss's debut, Chang and Eng Bunker were born in the early 1800s in a rainy village on the shores of the Mekong Delta. Achieving instant fame as the "Siamese double boy," they toured freak shows throughout China, Europe, and North America. Eventually they settled in North Carolina (of all places), married a pair of sisters, and fathered 21 children between them.

This fictionalized version of their story is narrated by the stronger, more circumspect twin, Eng, who must continually urge Chang to restrain his tears, his burning sexual desires, and his fear of the King of Siam (who has promised to "kill the double-child, the bad omen"). From the beginning, Strauss masterfully delineates the brothers' differences. Yet it's the porous nature of their relationship that will fascinate readers even more. The twins, after all, must always sleep face to face, connected by a fleshy band and the knowledge of their shared monstrosity. The fact that they are neither "he" nor "we" allows the author myriad opportunities for wordplay and psychological riddles. Does Chang love his brother, or does he love himself? When he hates his brother, is it only a piece of himself he is ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0452281091
ISBN-13: 978-0452281097
Author: Darin Strauss
Genre: History
Publisher: Plume
First to Review
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