(This is the Booman Tribune premiere of the Weekly Book Diary that I’ve been doing over on Kos for a few months.  The rest of the series can be found here, interspersed with the odd and very rare midweek diary.  Hope y’all like it!)

Ahh, family values.  The thing we’ve been hammered over the head with for lo unto these past five, six, what, twenty years now…

I kind of doubt they had Lazarus Long’s family in mind when they thought of “family values”, though.  Or the Karenin family.  Or even Harry Potter’s “muggle” family, terribly dysfunctonal and abusive.  But families they are, some closer to reality than the whitebread Father Knows Best family that has been broadcast to us for the past 60 years.

What brought this on?  A day with my family.

My family is an interesting and eclectic bunch, who could fill volumes with their own stories.  We had much conversation, much food, and much fun.  Many memories were freshened and new ones made, and there were several new additions that I hadn’t yet met.  So, I was inspired by my family to do the book diary on literary families.

Mostly, though, it was these two.

Meet Abby and Izzy.  Abagail and Isabella, the children of my first cousins.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

They’re 3 and 2 respectively.  They met for the first time today at a picnic my uncle had.  Abby lives local, Izzy lives way across the state in Carlisle.  It was love at first sight.  They immediately went everywhere hand in hand, inseperable.  What is it about families that makes that happen?  And how do the families in literature and their creators convey that on a printed page so effectively?

Now I’m about as liberal as they get, but even I get a little creeped out by Lazarus Long and his mother and their relationship.  For those who don’t know, Heinlein wrote a whole series of books about Lazarus Long, some of them dealing with his mother Maureen.  “To Sail Beyond the Sunset” tells her story.  Lazarus had inhereited some freakish longevity gene and was the progenitor of a group of “methuselahs”, people who would live for a thousand years or more.  The concept was interesting and led to some compelling story lines.  

The Kareninas are another story again.  The first line of the novel “Anna Karenina”..

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

sets the tone, and you know you’re going to be reading about an unhappy family.  Ah yes, unhappy, dysfunctional, downright nuts, some of them, but a family with that unique bond nonetheless.  The Karenins and their circle of friends and associates are one of my favorite literary families, right up there with those brothers named Karamazov.

Harry Potter’s muggle family are just nuts.  They’re evil, a stereotype of evil step-parents and step-brother.  But they’re fun, in their own way.  

Who are your favorite literary families?  Your love-to-hate literary families?  And as ever, what have you read lately?

(Here’s one more gratuitous picture of Abby and Izzy.  Just ’cause they’re so cute.)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

0 0 votes
Article Rating