Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

I don't know much about Jewish culture or customs, which is what this book revolves around, so maybe I missed a lot of inside jokes...I am not sure. I have heard that it is like a Jewish version of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (which I own but have not yet read...maybe I should). This book was very character-driven, much like J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine, although I think you knew where the book would end as soon as it began. The story revolves around Edie, an overweight matriarch of a three generation family, who keeps having to have surgeries done to keep her alive (stents in legs and whatnot). Her husband Richard leaves her since he was done living with someone he didn't love anymore and who was slowly killing herself and taking him along with her. They have children, Benny and Robin. Benny's wife Rachelle is on a mission to save her mother-in-law from herself, even going so far as to stalk her when she goes from a McDonald's to a Burger King and ending at a Chinese restaurant. Benny tries to be fairly hands-off, but appeals to his dad when Rachelle says Richard can no longer visit the grandchildren (Josh and Emily, twins who have their b'nai mitzvah coming up). Robin seems to want nothing to do with her family, and she and Emily are often likened to younger, smaller Edies. I didn't feel like this book really went anywhere (that is what I think of most character-driven books, I have found), but it was told in an interesting way: each chapter has a different character narrating. There is even a chapter where the family friends are narrating the b'nai mitzvah.

No comments:

Post a Comment