All in the Family
Signature listed books about dysfunctional families, which is probably my all-time favorite sub-genre of literature. I haven’t read any of the titles on this list (yet), but here are ten great contemporary novels about dysfunctional family dynamics.
Unhappy In Its Own Way*
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (2001)
- The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg (2004)
- On Beauty by Zadie Smith (2005)
- This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (2009)
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (2010)
- The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson (2011)
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (2012)
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2014)
- Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont (2015)
- Modern Lovers by Emma Straub (2016)
* See the first line of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
Speaking of dysfunctional families (and also: mini-spoiler with the choice of that first GIF), Jason Bateman signed on for Season 5 of Arrested Development. Also, fun fact: he plays leading roles in the film versions of two books on the list: This is Where I Leave You (2014) and The Family Fang (2016). I saw only the former (such an all-star cast!), but the book was much better.
Thanks for the GIF-segue, Lucille Bluth, because today is Mother’s Day in the U.S.! HuffPost offered 10 Too-Real Comics About Mother’s Day, which features one of my favorite web comic artists, Cathy Thorne, but I like this one better than the comic included in the listicle.
The New York Times suggested nine movies to watch with your mother. (My pick? Grey Gardens.) Steph Auteri wrote an article at Book Riot, “Literary Bad Moms Who Ease My Own Mom Guilt,” in which she breaks bad literary moms down into five categories that are actually kind of funny. Also at Book Riot, “Our Favorite Literary Mothers.” Note that the titular mother of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple is included. Molly Weasley also made the cut, so do with that what you will.
The Holderness Family posted a very clever Mother’s Day Wine Pairings video. Did your darling children bring you breakfast in bed at 5:42 AM? Pair it with mimosas. And, don’t forget about science! The Daily Beast published an article about the future that I’m too scared to read: What If a Robot Was Your Mom? Okay, but what if my mother has already been replaced by a robot? It happened in Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives! And that was written in 1972!
There’s a headline at Science of Us from New York Magazine that reads, “Your Sleep Might Start Getting Permanently Worse in Your 30s,” but when I clicked to read the article, I saw it was written by Jesse Singal, who wrote a mansplaining piece about millennials I featured in the April 30th edition of Kate Curates the Internet, so I didn’t read it. I believe it, but I can’t read anything by this dude anymore. While we’re on the topic of millennials, have some comic relief about self-important millennials with this parody from Trevor Williams: Millensplain!
FYI: The “chill” doesn’t represent relaxation, but a literal chill, like getting goosebumps from hearing poetry. This is why we need both arts and science programs in schools. Things we don’t need in schools? Scientology-backed drug education programs for high schoolers. (Oops. Your b, Santa Monica High School. Maybe run a more thorough background check next time.)
Bill Clinton and James Patterson are co-writing a new thriller called…The President Is Missing. Dum dum dum. You can read about it literally everywhere on the Internet: Publisher’s Weekly, HuffPost, NPR, Electric Literature, A.V. Club, and The Cut all reported the same thing, which is basically that, well, it’s happening, and will be published in 2018. But it already has a cover!
Elsewhere in Clintonville, Curtis Sittenfeld, whose novels include Eligible (2016), a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and American Wife (2008), a fictionalization of former First Lady Laura Bush, is now writing a novel (expected publication 2019) that will be a first-person narrative about what Hillary Clinton’s life would have been like if she had remained Hillary Rodham. So, Hillary sans Bill. In all honesty, Bill sans Hillary would probably also lead to Bill co-writing a political thriller with James Patterson.
The Internet was a great place for satire about Trump’s firing James Comey. From The New Yorker: Possible Replacements for James Comey (a bulleted list that includes Voldemort), New F.B.I.-Director Job Application (a multiple-choice/free-response exam that asks you to Use the space below to draw a flattering likeness of the President), and an illustrated guide to Other People Trump Has Fired. And, from HuffPost, President Trump’s Cragislist Ad for Comey’s Replacement (“Previous experience unnecessary–okay if law/justice is more of a hobby”).
Feeling upset about the current state of the world? You can apparently shut down your body’s physiological response to stress by thinking about happy memories. It’s like the Patronus charm from Harry Potter, but you don’t even need a magic wand to do it! And instead of Dementors, you’re facing your personal anxiety demons! Huh. Do you think that was J.K. Rowling’s intended metaphor?
Disclaimer: thinking happy thoughts (even without a magic wand) will not cause a bright light in the shape of your spirit animal to appear. Nor will it allow you to fly à la Peter Pan. Besides, everyone knows you can’t just think a happy thought and fly. You need fairy dust, too. Duh. (Also, I just realized that Peter Pan kind of treats Tinkerbell like shit. At least in the Disney version. Is there a live action remake of that planned now? Don’t do it, Disney.)