8 of the Strangest Families in Literature

Today marks the release of one of the summer’s most buzzed-about — and greatest — novels, Matt Bell’s dreamlike In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods. Without giving anything away, the book features a very strange family indeed, and so to accompany its release, Flavorwire has asked Bell to suggest some other fabulist, weird literary families worth your attention. Check out Bell’s picks after the jump, and if your own favorite bizarre literary family has been ludicrously misplaced here, add it to the list in the comments.


The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold/Merry Gold/Ketzia Gold, Kate Bernheimer

Kate Bernheimer’s three books of fairy tales about the Gold sisters are among the finest examples of contemporary fairy tales, and their focus on the family — and how one can be estranged and alone even inside a family — make them some of the most emotionally affecting books I’ve read, especially when read together. All of the books fuse fairy tale aspects into contemporary suburban lives, and Merry Gold, narrating her volume of the trilogy, explains her own connection to the place of her childhood, and to the life she lived there: “Ah, the suburbs. I’ve found that living somewhere that reminds me of childhood is important to me. Why? There are, I have learned, theories that say childhood is far more vivid than any experience one could have later in life. Seeing, feeling, smelling, hearing, and tasting in childhood reach the level of depravity, this theory says. Some call this rapture, others bliss. I cannot say that my depravity has ever reached the level of happiness, but I do find that when my life is as orderly as it was at home, I am closest to fine.”