Monday, October 24, 2016

strictly literary: the nest by cynthia d'aprix sweeney

a couple of my friends recommended the nest, likening it to a literary arrested development. and to an extent the plumb family is very much like the bluths. except possibly a million times less likeable. they are just as entitled, just as narcissistic, but there is an undercurrent of love and affection in the television show that is not really present in the novel.

part of the problem is that so much of the narrative revolves around leo plumb--someone so selfish and self-destructive, so incapable of putting anything but his own self-interest first. we don't ever really see the leo that is kind and charismatic, the one who tricks people into thinking there is more to him than meets the eye. we are first introduced to him the night of his car accident, and that unflattering image sticks to him throughout the novel, even as his siblings try to find something worth believing in him. but leo is leo. he's got nothing to give to anyone, and yet somehow he still fools people into thinking he does.

the sibling relationships here do not resemble my sibling relationships at all. probably because we are real people who have no money to fight over. but the overall lack of interest in one another--which did actually improve over the course of the novel--felt so alien to me. i may not always get along with my siblings. but there is no doubt that we love each other. but here you wonder if the plumbs feel anything for each other than mild contempt. it's a very weird family to spend time with, because they are so unfamiliar to each other. and like i said, this does improve throughout the novel, but in small degrees. they don't change fundamentally.

in the end, i did enjoy reading this. i'm just not sure i liked it. which is a weird headspace to be in. some questions were left unresolved, but not in a way that made you feel like you still wanted more to the story, just in the why didn't the author answer this particular question more clearly. if she wanted things to be left open-ended that was one thing, but it didn't feel that way, really. it felt more like she forgot to tie up some of those loose ends. which is a disconcerting way to feel when you finish a  novel.

i suppose i have to say that in the battle of which family i'd rather spend time with i prefer the bluths to the plumbs. there's just a bit more fun to be had with the bluths.

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