BOOKS: FAMILY TIES

A PORTRAIT OF A BROTHER IS TAINTED BY BITTERNESS

Jamaica Kincaid is a writer of stinging force, rare intelligence and, alas, a single, anguished theme: her bitter resentment of her mother--who, as the author herself seems to realize, was merely a limited, self-absorbed woman. But in book after book (notably a brilliant, tormented novel, The Autobiography of My Mother), Kincaid displays the wounds of her unhappy childhood as a poor, bookish black girl in Antigua. Her new volume, an irritating navel contemplation titled My Brother (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 198 pages; $19), repeats the pattern of familiar, well-written complaint. (Opinions differ; in what appears to be a makeup call for...