Today’s Read-it-if Review focuses on an anthology pertinent to fathers and sons and the oft-complex relationship betwixt the two. We received a copy of Inherited Disorders: Stories, Parables and Problems by Adam Ehrlich Sachs from the publisher via Netgalley. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
A son receives an inheritance from his father and tries to dispose of it before it destroys him. Inherited Disorders tells this elemental story in over 100 hilarious, witty variations.
Adam Ehrlich Sachs’s Inherited Disorders is a rueful, absurd, and endlessly entertaining look at a most serious subject—the eternally vexed relations between fathers and sons. In a hundred and seventeen shrewd, surreal vignettes, Sachs lays bare the petty rivalries, thwarted affection, and mutual bafflement that have characterized the filial bond since the days of Davidic kings. A philosopher’s son kills his father and explains his aphorisms to death. A father bequeaths to his son his jacket, deodorant, and political beliefs. England’s most famous medium becomes possessed by the spirit of his skeptical father—who questions, in front of the nation, his son’s choice of career. A Czech pianist amputates his fingers one by one to thwart his father, who will not stop composing concertos for him. A nineteenth-century Italian nobleman wills his ill-conceived flying contraption—incapable of actual flight—to his newborn son. In West Hollywood, an aspiring screenwriter must contend with the judgmental visage of his father, a respected public intellectual whose frozen head, clearly disappointed in him, he keeps in his freezer. Keenly inventive, but painfully familiar, these surprisingly tender stories signal the arrival of a brilliant new comic voice—and fresh hope for fathers and sons the world over.
Read it if:
*you are a father or a son
*you have a father or a son, and would quite like to have a good laugh at them
*you like your short stories to be exactly that
*you enjoy being alive for no more complex reason than that life affords you the ability to amusedly observe the burdens of others – and the more ridiculous the burden, the greater your appreciation of your ability to observe it
* you are, or have, a father who will not be thwarted in passing on an absurd legacy to ungrateful offspring
Inherited Disorders in one of the more unusual short story anthologies that I’ve come across of late. For a start, the stories are all considerably shorter – some less than a page – than what one might usually find in a short story collection. Being a purveyor of micro-narrative myself, I found this quite refreshing and perfectly suited to the dip-in, dip-out situation necessitated by having too much to read and too little time in which to read it.
Each of the stories possess a significant element of the absurd and I found this to be the key factor in chuckle-elicitation as I was reading. For the reader not prepared for a voluminous collection of stories that each promote the most ridiculous aspect of the father-son relationship, this dry yet quirky style of humour may end up leaving a bad taste in the reader’s mouth. I, however, loved it. From the book’s opener, The Nature Poet, in which a poet’s attempts to describe a fern are continuously misinterpreted as coded commentaries on his father’s brutal Nazi past, to the cyclical legacy of commentaries from which successive sons cannot extract themselves, to the respective burdens of the famous mountain climber’s/sea kayaker’s/skydiver’s sons, each story here has been designed to draw the reader in to the inescapable nature of the intagible inheritence each one of us receives from our parents.
The only downside I found in this collection was that as there are so many stories included, some of them had themes or motifs that seemed too similar and therefore felt somewhat repetitive. There are at least two stories featuring the frustrated sons of famous mountain climbers, for instance. There are multiple stories featuring the sons of accomplished fathers, who wish to achieve in a different a field. I suppose the benefit of this is that there is no pressure to read each individual story, knowing that they all feature the same theme, but to pick and choose those that appeal.
I’d recommend Inherited Disorders to those looking for a funny, quirky collection that pays homage to this ridiculous experience we call life, through the medium of father-son relationships.
I’m submitting this one for the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge hosted by Escape with Dollycas:
You can check out my progress toward that challenge here.
Until nex time,