Saturday, April 24, 2021

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."



This is probably the saddest book I ever laughed out loud all the way through. The heartbreaking story of this brilliant and genius dysfunctional family of performance artists is told in such a clever and satirical voice, it's impossible not to snicker and breakup at their weaknesses, cruelties, and deeply ingrained failings. It is so extravagant and extreme and thoroughly enchanting, when it finally begins to spiral completely out of control it doesn't even seem too outrageous to be true!

The best recommendation I can give for this book comes from a short conversation about it I had in bed with my better half:
"I thought you wanted me to read this book...?"
"Oh, I do!"
"Then why are you reading almost the entire thing out loud to me?"

For people who love art; for people who hate art; for people who never considered what goes into making art; for people who find performance art both pretentious and precious; and for every person who has spent ten minutes in a food court in an American shopping mall: this is a gotta read!

"Kids kill art. No. Art kills kids."
You gotta be there. 

I don't know what about this book kept me engrossed for almost a straight-through day and night. The characters - though completely believable - aren't particularly pleasant, and usually I need at least one person to root for in a book. But, there was something about the writing and the story which kept me up until I finished it!
Basically it's a family saga of a completely dysfunctional Irish show-business family (a couple of performers, a film producer, a talent agent). It's written from the point of view of three of the family members (the three brothers), and often the same incident is retold from a different perspective. No one is faultless and without blame for the fall-out which often/always occurs, yet there is something that intrigued and kept me turning pages.
If you have penchant for dark, twisted, quirky and sometimes bizarre characters, I heartily recommend this one! It's not a particularly light read, as it has quite an emotionally dangerous undertow to it; however, it's also not a deeply philosophical narrative nor a pretense of a psychology lecture. It's a good quick read, mainly because you'll want to keep reading it straight through meals! I have to add, if you're a fan of sunshine, rainbows, children's smiles and heart-warming Hallmark movies, I would say skip this one!

I enjoyed this multi-generational family saga. A young couple from Germany leaves for America - not speaking English and not having any real money to speak of - in order to escape her disapproving family who feel that the man is beneath her daughter's station. From there we follow the family through the adult years of their grandchildren.
It's a gentle, quiet story. There are certainly many emotional moments and chapters of intrigue; but, they are handled in a very realistic way and not in a thriller/suspense novel way. And, of course, a major surprise at the end of the book which I genuinely was not expecting.
And, the nice thing about this - and the reason I chose to read the book at this time - is many of their decisions in life are made with the thought of their patriotism and love for America and all the good things it's meant to stand for.
I would recommend this to anybody who would like an unassuming, well-written, thoughtful, loving story of an uncommon common family with all the joy, tragedy and skeletons-in-the-closet that involves.
I should add, this was written by Alex George, who wrote The Paris Hours - a book that I was totally enamored of a couple months ago. Obviously, I really enjoy his writing and his way with a tale!


I'm so glad you stopped by Enchanted Revelries today ... and I hope your interest was piqued to search out a book you didn't know about before!

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´) Tristan




Buttercup said...

Great reviews! I'm in the midst of an Icelandic mystery and kind of trudging along, so The Family Fang might be a good change. Thanks so much for your comments. We'll be in New England next. Have a good week.

fredamans said...

I loved Little Cruelties!

Buttercup said...

Traded my ticket for Music Man with Hugh Jackman (!) for December for March. Not technically a new ticket, but had to go to the TicketMaster site. Worth looking at those tickets.

Tristan Robin said...

I have enjoyed Hugh Jackman onstage in Oklahoma! and The Boy From Oz. And I love Sutton Foster. And I love that Jayne Houdyshell is going to be in this one. But, I just don't think I can sit through The Music Man again. I've seen two Broadway revivals - and I've been in two productions (once as Harold Hill, once as Marcellus) and I've directed a production. I know those lines and songs backwards, forwards and in pig Latin LOL. But, I'm sure that's going to be a super production!

swag kit said...

nice blog.

Buttercup said...

Thanks for all of your comments. Your devoted reader (me!) is waiting for the next set of book recommendations. Keep cool!

Bohemian said...

A Book about a brilliant and genius dysfunctional family intrigues me even tho' I rarely read a Book without Pictures. Mostly because, I'm sure it's relatable to me... from a personal standpoint. We're all Mad here at Forever Boheme' and quite the Human Sideshow as a Family Unit. But somehow, it works... and can be hilarious, even when it's not really 'funny' in the classic sense unless you enjoy good Gallow's Humor, which we do.

Sarah said...
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