Title: The Middlesteins
Author: Jami Attenberg
Originally Published: 2012
Format I Read: Kindle (NetGalley)
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
The Middlesteins, Jami Attenberg’s latest novel, has been getting crazy buzz for months. I bought in. I had to read it.
It’s the story of, wait for it, the Middlestein family. The central conceit is that the matriarch, Edie, is morbidly obese and in poor health. And the rest of the family – her husband Richard, their grown children, their grandchildren, and others – reacts to this as they will.
The writing is really good. Attenberg manages to write convincingly across generations, genders, and family lines. She realistically inserts gems of wisdom and observation without veering into pedagogy. This is my one of my favorite quotes from the book:
The best men are not consistent in good – why should the worst men be consistent in evil?
It is essentially a character study, with the Middlestein family as the main character. When viewed through that prism, it is very satisfying. But I couldn’t help feeling like each of the individual characters got short shrift. The reader is given just a taste of each of these vivid and interesting characters. I was left wanting more. And so, I will eagerly await more of Attenberg’s books.
The Middlesteins, by Jami Attenberg