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Article in Adult Fiction and Themes categories.

Is empathy necessarily positive? Can carefully prepared family meals become a curse? The author writes hypnotically, with surreal dialogue, but anchors a haunting family story in a startlingly normal southern California suburb.
Consistently funny memoir of growing up with her wealthy but morally doomed family. What makes it remarkable is her evident love for the people.
All Enid Lambert wants is one last family Christmas. Her husband and three children try to oblige her wish with devastating humor and an honest look at 20th century issues: both of the family and society.
The book reminded me in some ways of The Tortilla Curtain except that Puchner loves his characters in a way that TC Boyle does not. It's extravagantly, darkly comic, and though much of the laughter comes from the bizarre situations in which the family members put themselves, their motives are alarmingly real, submerged desires that surface at exactly the wrong moment and are expressed because of the guilt of the actors.
"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."