Tag Archives: Family Dysfunction

My Thoughts Be Bloody by Nora Titone

My Thoughts Be Bloody by Nora TitoneTitle:  My Thoughts Be Bloody:  The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy

Author:  Nora Titone

Call #:  973.7092 TIT

Despite the huge number of books about the Lincoln assassination and all its major players, Nora Titone has written an original and lesser known story about this historical event. Focusing primarily on the life of John Wilkes and the Booth family prior to the assassination, the author provides many essential insights into the character of John Wilkes, the strained relationship he had with his family, especially his father, legendary actor Junius Brutus Booth and his brother the equally talented Edwin Booth. Living up to his father’s name and realizing he was a much lesser actor than his brother, John Wilkes harbored a jealousy and hatred for them that combined with an ever increasing sympathy and support for the Southern cause (both father and brother supported the North), that the reader will see came together in a twisted way that legitimized, in John Wilkes’ mind, not only why he had to kill Lincoln but where.

Recommended by:  Mike


Stitches by David Small

StitchesTitle:  Stitches

Author:  David Small

Call #:  G SMA

David Small’s coming-of-age memoir in graphic format accomplishes much with few words and stark yet affecting drawings.  When he is 14, he has a procedure that he believes is routine, only to wake from surgery almost mute, having a vocal cord removed.  Not until much later does he find out that he had cancer and was expected to die.  His cold, angry and bitter parents believe they did what was best.  This book is heartbreaking and amazing – there are pictures that will stay with me for a very long time.

Recommended by:  Kathy

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

This is How You Lose Her by Junot DiazTitle:  This is How You Lose Her

Author:  Junot Diaz

Call #:  DIAZ

Generally short stories are not my favorite but two things helped with this collection – the stories are interconnected and the writing is fantastic.  They are connected by theme (love, lust, sex, cheating and more cheating) and by character.  Most of the stories feature brothers Yunior and Rafa – from Diaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  I really love Diaz’s writing style because it is unlike anything else I read. One reviewer summed it up perfectly – “GRE-prep words with literary allusions, pop-culture references, Dominican slang, and American profanity”.

Recommended by:  Kathy

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

Family Fang by Kevin WilsonTitle:  The Family Fang

Author:  Kevin Wilson

Call #:  WIL

This book is about a family in which the parents are artists whose art involves creating chaos in public spaces and then filming it.  When their two children are born, they include them in their schemes.  The book alternates chapters from the present, when the kids are grown and the past when they detail one of their art installations.  It has all my favorite things – family dysfunction, a discussion of what makes art, a coming-of-age story and dark humor.

Recommended by:  Kathy

Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta

Stone Arabia by Dana SpiottaTitle:  Stone Arabia

Author:  Dana Spiotta

Call #:  SPI

Nik Worth is an eccentric musician with a huge catalog of recordings but little success.  Yet he has created an alternate life history for himself, complete with newspaper clippings, reviews and album covers.  Nik’s sister Denise is his most loyal listener and the narrator of the story.  Not only is this a realistic portrait of a sibling relationship but a unique look at outsider art and maintaining your artistic identity in the face of a fame obsessed society.

Recommended by:  Kathy

Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French

Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-FrenchTitle: Revenge of the Radioactive Lady

Author: Elizabeth Stuckey-French

Call #: STU

In the 1950’s, pregnant Marylou is given a strange cocktail of vitamins but really it is radioactive material that was given to a multitude of unknowing women to test the effects of radiation.  Marylou’s daughter ultimately dies from cancer when she is eight and now, fifty years later, Marylou wants revenge on the doctor responsible for the study.  Told in alternating voices by seven people who all have secrets to hide, this novel is an engrossing, darkly humorous account of dysfunction galore.

Recommended by: Kathy

How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper

How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan TropperTitle: How to Talk to a Widower

Author: Jonathan Tropper

Call #: TRO

This is the story of 29-year-old Doug, whose life has stood still in the two years since his wife died in a plane crash. This book is humorous and serious. Doug must deal with the anger and disappointment of his dead wife’s teenage son, his sister’s marriage to a guy she met at his wife’s funeral, his stroke victim dad, and his wacky twin sister. He has to accept a future in which his happiness could someday become a direct result of his wife’s death.

Recommended by: Becky