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Buy for $20.97
From filmmaker and New Yorker contributor Susanna Fogel comes a comedic novel about a fractured family of New England Jews and their discontents. Told entirely in letters to a heroine we never meet, we get to know the Fellers through their check-ins with Julie over the course of three decades: their thank-you notes, letters of condolence, family gossip, and good old-fashioned familial passive-aggression. Together, their missives - some sardonic, others absurd, others heartbreaking - weave a tapestry of a very modern family trying (and often failing) to show one another they care.
The titular "nuclear family" includes, among many others, a narcissistic former-child-prodigy father who has taken up haiku writing in his old age and his new wife, a traditional Chinese woman whose attempts to help her stepdaughter find a man include FedExing her silk gowns from Filene's Basement; their six-year-old son, Stuart, whose favorite condiment is truffle oil and who wears suits to bed; and Julie's mother, a psychologist who never remarried but may be in love with her arrogant rabbi and overshares about everything, including the threesome she had with Dutch grad students in 1972.
Full cast of narrators includes Ellen Archer, Lauren Fortgang, Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren, Jonathan Davis, Carol Monda, Richard Ferrone, Stephen Bel Davies, L. J. Ganser, Dan Bittner, Lance Rubin, and Josh Hurley.
What listeners say about Nuclear Family
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A uniquely told and yet so familiar tale, or at least for all those of us who can identify and amusedly recognize our own thoughts and families and FoF’s in it.
I can imagine a similar “which SATC character are you?” game with this book as the subject.
A somewhat biased review
Disclosure, I am related to Susanna...
At first glance/listen, I was skeptical of the concept of an epistolary novel. However, it really grew on me that you could hear the voices of the “characters” coming through in a more realistic way than I’d heard in many other novels written in more conventional formats. The fact that they are “letters” does impose a separation between letters— unlike chapters; yet, you build an intimacy with each character that way. I found each character’s humor very unique and fun. I particularly liked the mother and father and their different distances from the recipient of the letters. I enjoyed the performances from each of the large ensemble that put this show on. I’ve never heard such a large and diverse cast. It felt extremely theatrical, but not overly so. However, since I last heard Allison Hiroto voicing Aomame in 1Q84, it was a little hard removing her very intense performance in that role from my head (I have listened to that book 3 times... it’s quite lengthy). Yet, she was excellent here as well. In fact, I couldn’t stop listening to this book, always waiting for the next expressive performance in a truly fun book. Thank you for writing this! I’m sure there are many more letters that could have been in here.
Your cousin, Eli