Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, October 07, 2016

Harvesting some family themed fiction this fall season

While October brings on those spooky vibes associated with the fall season, it doesn't shut out the major emotional element which makes it so inviting, that sweet touch that is as pleasantly persistent as pumpkin spice(for some of us, anyway).

Family time adds that special kick to the autumn holiday season as Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah and other get-togethers make bonding with the kin folk an essential part of the celebration.

Of course, that does come with a few side effects which are well explored in a good number of the new novels that are out and about right now. Here's a tempting trio of fresh reads that offer up their special blend of family flavored story telling to make your perfect cup of literary tea:

COMMONWEALTH: Ann Patchett's latest work follows more than one generation of an entwined family, starting with an unexpected kiss at a christening that changes the course of several lives.

 The baby who was the focus of that party, Franny, grows up to marry a writer who turns those family secrets into a bestselling book and film, forcing the many step-siblings in her life to relive those particular scenes in a way they couldn't imagine.

I recently started this novel(the first time I've read any Ann Patchett) and the lyrical tone that she uses to evoke the setting for her characters is truly entrancing. I had to take a brief break,due to a readathon, but extending my stay with this set of relatable relatives is a must:

THE MORTIFICATIONS: This debut novel by Derek Palacio is set in the 1980s, where the Encarnacion family is divided literally between two countries.  Mother Soledad takes her twin son and daughter Ulies and Isabel with her to America, settling down in Hartford,Connecticut, while father Uxbal remains in Cuba determined to hold on to his political dreams.

 Over the years, Soledad and her children manage to make lives for themselves that are vastly different than the ones they could've had in their homeland yet still fraught with various challenges.

 When a letter arrives from Cuba written by Uxbal, all three of them have to decide if returning to him is an option any of them want to truly pursue. This book does sounds promisingly beautiful as it draws flowing distinctive lines that connect past and present that illustrate those dreams of home for those who had to seek out another one:

THE NIX: We have another amazing debut novel come a-croppin' here, as Nathan Hill garnishes his meaty mother and son story with a bounty of history, mystery and pop culture treats.

The leading man of this fictional feast is Samuel, a college professor with a vicious video game habit who is way behind on his current book contract. Dropping into his life with the luck of a bad penny is Faye, the mother that left him when he was eleven and who is now up on charges involving political protest.

Turns out that Faye has quite the colorful history and Samuel's agent encourages him to write about her glory days in order to fix his finances. Motivated by more than money, he looks into Faye's former life and times, learning way more than he ever intended to about her and himself. 

Comparisons have been made to John Irving(Irving himself has said great things about this novel) and as a long time World According to Garp gal, I am eager to if this is so for myself:

Novels about families can be enjoyed year round but there's something about fall that makes them especially suitable. Maybe it's that whole gathering around the dinner table urge that takes hold during these months or just the simple fact that some of the best stories you'll ever hear(true or not) do come from family, with that peculiar flavor of sour and sweet love:

1 comment:

Michelle Miller said...

Great post, Tara. Family is so important and spending time together in the Fall and during Thanksgiving/Christmas is always so special. Thanks for reminding us that it's not all about the scary. :-)

Can't wait to get my hands on Patchett's new book!