Here is a good idea from Bloomsbury: a series of family-themed short stories issued as e-singles so that you can read them individually, or pick and mix and put a few together to make your own collection. The writers include such stellar names as Jhumpa Lahiri, T.C. Boyle, and Elizabeth Gilbert, and others who may be less well known just yet but who have already made something of a splash.
"Each story in this series offers a poignant glimpse of family life – the ties we cling to; the ties we try to sever; and the ties that make us who we are... and each gives us a fresh, empathetic and moving insight into the meaning of family."
Jhumpa Lahiri's very fine collection Unaccustomed Earth is represented by Only Goodness in which siblings' paths diverge. Their parents believe both children are destined to succeed, but only one will fulfil their expectations.
In Elizabeth Gilbert's The Finest Wife, Rose, a lady with a colourful past, meets some 'old flames' in very surprising circumstances.
In T. C. Boyle's The Lie, the father of a young baby decides he could do with a day off work. He calls his employer and makes an excuse for his absence, but his lie will have huge consequences.
George Saunders's Home sees a war veteran return to what passes for his family - this is black comedy and a wry look at dysfunction.
Jon McGregor's story Which reminded her, later (from This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You - post on it here) is about the strains on a relationship when a couple take in an unexpected guest.
Just as individuals do, families come in all shapes and sizes; their dynamics are wide-ranging and on wildly differing scales, their habits, rules and ways of being are many and various. These stories illustrate all those things and more, and do so with originality, wit and a keen, observing eye.
Now, I promised a competition, and that's what we're going to have, so please come back here later to play 'judge the jackets' and win some first-class prizes!
See you anon.