Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Middlesteins - Jami Attenberg

THIS WAS REALLY GOOD AND I LIKED IT.

What, that doesn't constitute a review? Maybe I've been yelling about Harry Potter for too long...

OK, so there's this:

"Little Edie Herzen, having a bad day, was making the slowest walk up a flight of stairs in the collective history of walking and stairs."


I mean, right?

The Middlesteins is the story of a Jewish family in Chicago going about the business of living and loving and not strangling each other even though FAMILY. It was excessively wonderful. Attenberg's characters were really well drawn, and even when they were being upsetting, they were sympathetic. She changes perspective between the family members throughout the story, allowing the reader to understand the characters more, to see that, when they're being insufferable, they generally know it and feel bad about it. This is redeeming. This is familiar.  

The main story follows Edie and Richard, their marriage and struggles, and Edie's fixation on food. It spans generations: we see Edie as a child, we see her children as adults. It follows Edie and Richard's children as they find themselves having to take control and be the responsible, adult ones in this new parent-child relationship. It touches on how grating it is to learn that your parents are just people. Sometimes, not even good people. So not a new story, but not tired, either. Not in the way Attenberg tells it.

And did I mention it's funny? Funny with tragic overtones, but funny all the same. I will be reading through Attenberg's back catalogue, for certain.

15 comments:

  1. Jewish? Chicago? OKAY I WILL READ THIS (and not solely because I've been going out with a bunch of Jewish girls recently but KIND OF BECAUSE OF THAT)

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    1. That is a good reason to read a thing.

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  2. Well this sounds like my cup of tea. I thought I was getting my library queue under control BUT NO, THANKS KAYLEIGH.

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  3. 'I will be reading through [...]'s back catalogue, for certain' is a thing I say all the time. I'm still gonna, though.

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    1. I mean, yeah. It'll ... it'll happen.

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  4. Um. This sounds AMAZING and yes I will indeed read it! (ooooh, it's under £4 on the Kindle... DARE I?!)

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    1. DARE IT. Live dangerously, and what not. Also it really is really good and totally worth under £4.

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  5. Oooo that Sheldon gif alone convinces me. That and the fact that it sounds good. I'm trusting your judgement!

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    1. Yay! Sheldon gifs will work for most all situations.

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  6. "to learn that your parents are just people"... sounds like a tough read, especially since it hits close to home for a lot of people! However, your excerpt combined with the Sheldon gif make a very strong case for me to read it!

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    1. The really amazing thing about this book was that characters could act in a way that I didn't approve of, yet I was still sympathetic toward them. There was only one character I was kind of "And that's enough of YOU" with, and I think that was on purpose. And even still, that character was well meaning. AGH THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD.

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  7. I love family funny-time dramas! I shall read this at some point...soon.

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    1. Do iiit. There are also really delicious descriptions of Chinese food. So.

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  8. I WILL READ THIS!! (The yelling works both ways.)

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