Fictional Families So Bad They Make Yours Look Not So Bad.by The Book Lady.
"All happy families are alike, but an unhappy family is unhappy after its own fashion." --Tolstoy
And that's why there's no shortage of novels, good bad, happy or otherwise. Maybe everyone writes their first novel to get back at mum and dad. But from the Oedipi to Hamlet's happy brood to Kathryn Harrison's emotionally cannibalistic clans, literature speaks clear: Family is hell. Below, The Book Lady picks parents, siblings and others you don't want to find on the other end of a wishbone.
American PastoralSuch a nice family, the Levovs. He runs the family business, she was his college sweetheart, and their daughter, sweet little Merry, well, she's just blown up the post office and become a terrorist. (Forget Underworld, Philip Roth's vision of post-war America is the best book The Book Lady has read all year.)
Cold Comfort FarmAnyone who's traveled home for holidays armed with valium and the Serenity Prayer will identify with socialite orphan Flora Poste who decides to deliver her newly discovered relations, the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, from their long cherished chaos.
The Deranged CousinsEdward Gorey's twisted little amorality tale of three cousins named Rose Marshmary. Mary Rosemarsh and Marsh Maryrose whose sad and terrible decline begins with a fatal quarrel over a bedslat.
The Handmaid's TaleFamily values geta good thwacking in Margaret Atwood's nightmare vision of a future where the few fertile women are owned as "handmaids" by the barren and male dominated elite. The nuclear family in question: The Commander, his wife, Serena Joy, and Offred, their rebellious handmaid.
I. ClaudiusRobert Graves's classic portrait of imperial Rome proves that the family that rules together.kills each other off one by one by one. A warning: reading this book around the holidays will make you think twice about eating your mother's stuffing.
The Ice StormThey drink, so drugs, commit overt and covert acts of infidelity.and that's just the kids. The latest successors to Cheever's imploding WASPs, the Hoods win this year's prize as the most prodigiously screwed-upstanding families in Suburbia Americana.