A curated list of resources by the Denver Public Library Team
related to The Luckiest People by Meridith Friedman
Dealing With Relatives (…even if you can’t stand them!) by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner. Doctors Brinkman and Kirschner have done us all a favor and written an actually helpful, hopeful, and funny guide to surviving our family. No longer does one have to dread the mash-up of personalities and fraught histories that Thanksgiving, weddings, or that looming family reunion can bring together. This guide, subtitled “Bringing out the best in family at their worst,” helps to teach the skills that one may need to cope with uncomfortable feelings, defuse difficult situations, avoid unhealthy conflict, and to let go of resentment. Whether you have to deal with the Rebel or the General, the Meddler or the Martyr, Brinkman and Kirschner have a prescription that can get you on the road to mending relationships–or short of this–simply dealing with difficult relations with skill and grace. Family togetherness, here we come!
Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Joan Didion’s Pulitzer Award winning biography, The Year of Magical Thinking, offers an intimate perspective on Didion’s period of mourning following the sudden death of her husband of forty years, author John Gregory Dunne. This is Didion’s attempt to make sense of losing her husband, losing her sense of self, and her grip on reality. She incorporates medical and psychological research on grief, alongside accounts of her own temporary not-quite-sanity. This “magical thinking” that she experiences ranges from bargaining with fate to searching for ways to bring her husband back, including holding to the belief that she must keep his clothes and shoes, all those things that he will need when he does eventually return. The Year of Magical Thinking is one woman’s journey through the shadowlands of grief and mourning, but Didion left signposts meant to help those who will come after her, in hopes of helping others to better understand the experience of loss that we must all go through someday.
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. While Tolstoy asserts that “ Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” I think that the Lamberts are unhappy in a very similar way to the Hoffman’s. In the Corrections’ version of an unhappy family it is the patriarch who is succumbing to Parkinson’s and the rest of the family who are left to reel off kilter around him. Franzen is a witty and acerbic author and where Luckiest People is spare and quite, Corrections might seem bursting at the seams, I think the two stories tell a very similar tales about unhappy families, who really do ultimately love one another. Let the incomparable golden voiced George Guidall take you on a journey with this funny, sad, hopeful and disastrous family.
This is where I leave you Here is another glimpse at a family coming together to to cope with the loss of a parent. Altman’s have come together to sit shiva for the old man, even though they were never particularly religious. I think that the most common thread here though is stated by author and screenwriter Joshua Tropper himself when asked what the lesson to be learned from This is Where I Leave You he replied “to me, the takeaway from the book and film is that family will save you, whether you want them to or not.”