Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Reading: 'The Middlesteins' by Jami Attenberg

I finished Jami Attenberg's 'The Middlesteins' last week and I'm still thinking about the book. It ended abruptly for me, but that's only because I wanted more of the story, not because it wasn't a natural stopping place. I loved the way she wrote about her characters in the present while bringing in important things from the past and the future.  And most importantly, the book was extremely honest, which I really appreciated as a reader/writer who tries to be very rational in my own real life dealings.

Nothing in 'The Middlesteins' was sugar-coated except maybe for some of Edie's unhealthy snacks (oh yeah, see what I did there?)  The story rotates around Edie, the Middlestein matriarch who is slowly killing herself with a food addiction. With all of the essays I've seen around lately on likeable characters in fiction, I can honestly report that I didn't really like any of the main characters, meaning that I don't want to be best friends with any of them. But they were all flawed and rounded-out in wonderful ways, and I felt like I was reading about actual humans, people who exact in the same world that I do. People are not perfect; it isn't fun to write about problem-less characters.

Every single person in the book reminded me of someone that I know or used to know. I'm not entirely sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing but Attenberg's beautiful writing made me want to keep reading about the Middlestein family. xo

Photo courtesy of Attenberg's Tumblr account. Such an awesome display in Amsterdam.

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