Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Field Guide to the North American Family

A Field Guide to the North American Family, an illustrated novella by Garth Risk Hallberg. 127 pages

This is a strange little book. It has an attached ribbon bookmark, as if it were a bird book or a Bible. Some pages are made to appear bent, smudged or doodled upon. Two families who are neighbors on Long Island are discussed in out-of-sequence snippets, alphabetized by headings such as Guilt, Infidelity, Innocence, Rebellion. Each right-hand page has a photo that purportedly helps to illustrate the heading of the prior page, but the photos often seem to add obscurity instead.

Although the book is short and the snippets are brief and incomplete, an aura of drama about these families emerges, a storyline is sketched in.  I was moved, even though I didn't really want to care.

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