follow us on

Bookworm In Your Ear: Family Affairs

Family Affairs, leavened with humour is the underlying theme common to these novels. Anthony’s has a patina of superpowers; while Heiny offers us eccentric familiarity and compassion.

The Spoonbenders by Daryl Anthony (available at Fully Booked)

Teddy Telemachus is a conman with mob connections. Claiming to possess ESP, he meets Maureen, who is the real thing. They marry and have three children, who all possess actual talents. Irene is a human lie detector, Frankie has telekinesis powers, and Buddy sees the future. When Maureen passes away, it left to a Teddy to salvage the remnants of the family, and he isn't terribly successful. Humor-filled but also tragic and compassionate; it's like Anthony presents us the X-Men as a kitchen sink teledrama, with shafts of humor and irony. The plot thickens when the CIA comes calling to see if there's any juice left in the family. Irene's son, Marty, is a story unto himself, with out of body experiences that are triggered whenever he reaches orgasm. You can imagine the comic possibilities here, and what's great is how Anthony realizes them without sacrificing empathy and teenage angst. A sensitive handling of what could have been merely farcical or played for laughs. 

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (available at Fully Booked)

A well written, bittersweet tale, this is about the unfolding of relationships and lives that mirror the Origami figures we find on the cover. Graham and Audra are a couple with a mentally challenged son. Graham had a first wife in Elspeth; and as the story opens, we find Graham ruminating about how it is that he could have fallen in love with two such different women. Elspeth was brittle glass, a career woman/lawyer who took no prisoners. While Audra is that larger than life, extrovert, friend of the world. Graham ends up accompanying Audra to weddings of people he doesn't know at all, has to wait while Audra's life is overrun by chatty phone calls and getting involved exhaustedly in the lives of everyone within her periphery. She even wants to befriend Elspeth and have dinner dates together - which Graham finds pointless. The magic of this novel is how Heiny makes the eccentric so real and close to home; ripe with set pieces that make us recall this or that Tito or Tita.