Joyner's Dream by Sylvia Tyson
A friend lent me this book, and once I started reading it I had a hard time putting it down. (Thanks, S!) This is an enticing family saga, stretching from 18th-century England to 21st-century Canada. Like any family, this book's cast of characters is diverse: some are loving, nurturing parents, while others... not so much. My favourite example of the latter is a father who, due to his own demons, cannot accept his daughter, and so leaves the girl in the sole care of her grandfather. When the bad daddy reappears, he only sustains interest in the young woman as long as she aids him with cons, swindles and thefts. Nice, eh?
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) is a renowned and Nobel-winning Egyptian author. In Palace Walk, the first book of his Cairo Trilogy, we meet the al-Jawad family, headed by the imposing father, Sayyid Ahmad. Set in the late 1910's in Cairo, the book follows the paths of the various family members, outside of and inside of the family unit. At the outset Sayyid Ahmad is a sanctimonious, inflexible tyrant; as the book progresses he proves himself to be a two-faced, egotistical and vain bully. Thankfully, the other characters are much more sympathetic, and the writing is beautiful, giving a sensational feel of Egypt in the early 20th century.
Anything by Augusten Burroughs is not for the faint of heart, and, honestly, I recommend this author's memoirs only for those with a dry sense of humour bordering on dark. Burroughs manages to recount the disturbingly self-absorbed antics of his parents and others as outrageously funny vignettes. One example: after his parents' publicly acrimonious split, young Augusten's unstable mother gives him to her therapist, whose ritual is to poop on the picnic table in the family's backyard and then demand that the other members of the household examine it to assess what deep truths the excrement imparts. ... Betcha haven't done that, have you?
How about you? Do you have any "this-parent-makes-me-look-amazing" books?