Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst (3 out of 5)
This is exactly my type of book. I read about this book in an article on Huffington Post books (thanks Andrew for getting me hooked on HuffPo! That’s another nice thing you’ve done, sir!) on memoirs that were side-splitting. It is, indeed, a rather good read. Hilarious in parts, sad in parts, and downright lonely in parts. But again, totally worth the price of admission due to the author’s steadfast belief in telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (the crabs episode was a definite highlight. NOT for the author and her sister, obviously, but definitely a highlight for the reader).
Jeanne’s father is a novelist. A struggling writer his entire life. After his novel isn’t picked up, the nice life that Jeanne’s father has set up for their family in a hoity-toity suburb, goes slowly and steadily downhill until they pack up and move, believing that his book will be accepted and published, and he will be the success he wishes to be. Sadly, that’s not quite how it goes. Jeanne’s mom has stuck by her father much of his writing life, but she’s starting to falter. Along with the faltering, throw in a good dose of drinking. A mass amount of drinking every day. You watch the marriage disintegrate as Jeanne’s memoir moves along further. It’s a slow and steady process of a marriage slowly fading. The family itself starts to fall apart around their mother and father’s marriage.
The novel moves on, and Jeanne heads off to college, and discovers not only does she have her father’s penchant for writing, but she has her mother’s penchant for drinking more than she should. She goes through her bad relationships, and she tries to make her demons stay at bay while she crafts not only works, but a relationship that will stick. The question is- despite Jeanne’s humor and determination not to end up like her parents with their worst habits, will she be able to do so? Or will she struggle with the inner demons that she’s seemingly inherited from those who brought her into the world?
The memoir addresses so many corners of the family stone, that you simply cannot put it down. I could not put it down. When I was clipping through it, I was enjoying it. About 50 pages before the end, something changed. I’m not sure what or why, but the memoir lost some appeal to me. Enough that I set it down and thought “I feel like I’ve read this story before.” Not quite in the manner that Darst delivers it, but something just shifted in my attention span, and I feel like I just stopped caring, because it read like something I have read before. The style of writing strikes me as familiar, but the story itself, while having had me all the way through most of the book, suddenly just took on a serious case of “I really think I know how this ends.” And when I finished it and set it down, that instinct was confirmed. Sadly, so was my lack of caring. I said “Oh” and that was that. Because of that lingering feeling (24 hours after I finish it, I am now writing the review, and I still feel that vibe), I give it 3 stars. Having said that, Darst is hilarious and really does keep you in her life and how it unravels, through most of the book. It’s just those last 50 pages that lost me. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with your experience. It’s a refreshingly honest and funny memoir; I just wish it hadn’t skipped the pond in the last third of the book.