Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst

I was expecting a memoir about a family of failed writers in St. Louis, and while I really enjoyed this book, the descriptive copy was a little off. To start, although the back of the book implies it takes place in St. Louis, that's only for about the first ten pages, and then the entire rest of the book is in New York. Also, while Jeanne (obviously) and her father are writers, no one else is. Oh, and it's also a lot about alcohol addiction which I missed.

Jeanne is the youngest of four very close sisters (two sets of Irish twins), her father is a failed writer and her mother is a former debutante who laments their fall onto hard times, but doesn't do much to improve it except drink. Jeanne is so worried about becoming her father, she accidentally becomes her mother, at least following in her drinking footsteps. But she does make a change in that becoming sober seems to have worked well for Jeanne, whereas it didn't for her mother. And as we can see from the fact that this book is published, Jeanne does manage to avoid her father's lows as well.

In some ways, the fall from the middle class to abject, albeit somewhat genteel, poverty of her parents reminded me a little bit of The Glass Castle. Jeanne herself seemed to be following down their path but did pull herself back up. It took her a while to see that she was at a lower point than she thought, and her life was a bigger mess than she thought, but she eventually does and pulls herself up by her bootstraps. Well-written, harrowing in parts, this was a uniquely entertaining book that managed to combine my love of literature with my recent addiction memoir jag.

I bought this book at B&N.

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