From filmmaker and New Yorker contributor Susanna Fogel comes a comedic novel about a fractured family of New England Jews and their discontents, over the course of three decades. Told entirely in letters to a heroine we never meet, we get to know the Fellers through their check-ins with Julie: their thank-you notes, letters of condolence, family gossip, and good old-fashioned familial passive-aggression.
Together, their missives – some sardonic, others absurd, others heartbreaking – weave a tapestry of a very modern family trying (and often failing) to show one another they care.
The titular “Nuclear Family” includes, among many others:
A narcissistic former-child-prodigy father who has taken up haiku writing in his old age and his new wife, a traditional Chinese woman whose attempts to help her stepdaughter find a man include FedExing her silk gowns from Filene’s Basement.
Their six-year-old son, Stuart, whose favorite condiment is truffle oil and who wears suits to bed.
Julie’s mother, a psychologist who never remarried but may be in love with her arrogant Rabbi and overshares about everything, including the threesome she had with Dutch grad students in 1972.