Nuclear Family by Susanna Fogel

It’s nearing the end of the year, and I’ve only read 83 books, so I’m looking for slim volumes that I can read in one sitting and thoroughly enjoy to try to up my count to 90. Nuclear Family by Susanna Fogel certainly fits the bill. As the subtitle reveals, it is a ‘Tragicomic Novel in Letters’ and that’s about all I needed to hear. 

All the letters, emails and other missives are written to Julia, our silent protagonist, and paint the most delightful portrait of a family. Seriously, if you follow the link above you will have a sample of some of the letters. The clueless and self-centred dad, midlife crisis mom undergoing some sort of rebirth and deadbeat sister are the main letter writers, but notable mention should also be made of the nordic track, IUD and other inanimate objects that weigh in on Julia’s life. If you think any of this sounds familiar, some of the letters have been previously published in the New Yorker.

Who would like this book? Have you ever had to listen to your mom go on and on about the nice man at the Apple store who has up sold her on everything she doesn’t need? If you are that mom, you might not like the book so much. If you are that child, then this book is probably a slice out of your own life – only funnier. I loved it. I read parts of it out loud to my husband. It was a quick romp for a rainy day and reminded me of something one might find in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

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