“ALL I WRITE ABOUT IS FAMILY,” Elizabeth Cox once remarked to Richard Yates, who had helped her with her first novel. “That’s all there is to write about,” Yates replied. The late Evan S. Connell might have disagreed: Though he wrote two masterpieces about family life in midcentury America, Mrs.
PEOPLE HAVE discussed their plans to procreate—or skipped the discussion altogether—under many circumstances, but Ben and Alex, characters from Ben Lerner’s novel 10:04, are, to my knowledge, the only two who have started planning their family while staring at a painting at the Metropolitan Museum
TOUSSAINT, ONE OF TWO SETTINGS for Nalo Hopkinson’s novel Midnight Robber (2000), is a high-tech planet settled and controlled by Afro-Caribbean emigrants from Earth who wanted to make a new world in their own image, “free from downpression and botheration.” Toussaint looks like fun, too, though it’s
“I AM A SHIT. But at least I am a successful one.” Bob Slocum, Joseph Heller’s repugnant narrator-protagonist in Something Happened (1974), is a member of the corporate elite. He spends his time either at the office, which makes him unhappy, or with his family, whose demands provoke in him alternating
KENZABURŌ ŌE GREW UP in a village on the Japanese island of Shikoku. He lost his father during World War II, and lived through the defeat of imperial Japan and the surrender of Emperor Hirohito. One of Ōe’s earliest, and greatest, works—a novella called Prize Stock (1958)—describes what happens when
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE CONSIDERED The House of the Seven Gables (1851) a cheery book, or at least a bit merrier than The Scarlet Letter, even though few readers would agree with him, then or now. His saga about the Pyncheon family was “an affliction,” the novelist Catharine Sedgwick declared. “It affects
“A TRUE FREAK CANNOT BE MADE. A true freak must be born.” Or so says Olympia Binewski, the bald albino hunchback narrator of Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love (1989). She makes this declaration with a burst of filial pride, as part of a family bred purposefully to serve as sideshow freaks. Olympia’s parents
Barbara Comyns was born in 1909, the fourth of six children, to a very eccentric mother and father who lived in a large house in a small English town called Bidford-on-Avon. On a map of England, this town appears to be at the exact center, about two hours outside London, and if you look more closely—say,
Ethan Mordden’s Buddies, published in 1986 by Stonewall Inn Editions, a historic gay-fiction imprint of St. Martin’s Press, is the second collection of interconnected short stories in Mordden’s five-volume series on gay life in Gotham (later titles include Some Men Are Lookers and How’s Your Romance?
“IF YOU CANNOT GET RID OF the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance,” goes the only George Bernard Shaw quote I’ve ever bothered to fling around. Its best use may be for describing Alison C. Rose’s 2004 memoir, Better Than Sane: Tales from a Dangling Girl, where family—including, but not