Drinking Closer to Home: A Novel

Drinking Closer to Home: A Novel

3.6 69
by Jessica Anya Blau
     
 

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“Riveting and startling….So raw and funny I wanted to read parts aloud to strangers.” —Dylan Landis, author of Normal People Don't Live Like This

“Jessica Anya Blau…creates characters that have a lot more depth and more of a past than one often sees in fiction these days…. I found it impossible not to care

Overview

“Riveting and startling….So raw and funny I wanted to read parts aloud to strangers.” —Dylan Landis, author of Normal People Don't Live Like This

“Jessica Anya Blau…creates characters that have a lot more depth and more of a past than one often sees in fiction these days…. I found it impossible not to care about them—and equally impossible to forget them. Blau is a magnificent writer, and this is one special novel.” —Steve Yarbrough, author of Safe from the Neighbors

From Jessica Anya Blau, critically-acclaimed author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, comes a new novel of California, growing up, and learning to love your insane family. Perfect for fans of Jess Walter, Kevin Wilson, and Michael Chabon, Drinking Closer to Home is a poignant and funny exploration of one family’s over-the-top eccentricities—a book Ron Tanner calls “heartfelt and hilarious.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062042354
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/18/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
6,454
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Jessica Anya Blau is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Johns Hopkins University, where she received her master's degree. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches creative writing at Johns Hopkins.

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Drinking Closer to Home 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Lynda69 More than 1 year ago
Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau is a wonderful, sweet, poignant, and hilarious novel about family relationships. It's a brutally honest look at a truly dysfunctional family that takes place (in many flashbacks) from the 1970's to the early 1990's. Every character is flawed, but they're some of the most likable, intriguing, and interesting characters that I've ever come across. I absolutely loved this book! I looked forward to each moment I could spend with this wonderful, crazy, loving family and was sad when the story came to an end. I will definitely be reading more from this author. The quality of her writing is excellent, and she sure can tell a delightful tale! I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It had me laughing, crying, and frequently saying, "What the... I can't believe they did that!" It had me rapidly turning the pages to see what would happen next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book...interesting characters, great writing and an awesome story. I actually laughed out loud a few times. It's touching, funny, real and I feel like I'll miss this family now that I'm done reading the book. Definitely worth checking out. : )
Author_RichardThomas More than 1 year ago
(This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown.) A touching, funny, and unflinching look at a dysfunctional family, Drinking Closer to Home (Harper Perennial) by Jessica Anya Blau is a history that many of us may have lived. Hippie parents, competition between siblings, and the growing pains that we all endured: these are the fond memories and nightmares of our youth. What do you do when your mother quits being a mother? When your father grows pot plants in the back yard? When your older sister turns into a cigarette smoking, hard drinking woman on the prowl? When your younger sister retreats into her shell, a beach bunny with hidden dreams? When you suspect your brilliant brother of being gay, a ghost lost in the shadow of his dominant sisters? These stories are told in a series of flashbacks from 1968 to the present while the family is gathered around the hospital bed of their mother as she recuperates from a heart attack. Their sordid tales of youth and adventure unfold at a rapid clip, as the present-day regrets and promises to change float about the sterile hospital room and the messy homestead as well. Louise the freewheeling mother; Buzzy the worrisome father; Anna the wild older sister; Portia the heartbroken younger sister; and Emery the shy brother, run us through the wringer, and in the process, endear themselves to us-holding up mirrors, and windows, and open hands, looking for forgiveness. After the children unite around the hospital bed of their sick mother, we go back to the beginning, to their early childhood, to see how we got here. How did Anna become an unfaithful wife? How did Portia become a doormat? How did Emery become the voice of reason? It started when Louise decided to quit: "The year Anna was eleven, Portia was eight, and Emery was three, Louise decided she quit being a housewife. Anna was playing Parcheesi with her sister on the family room floor when Louise told them. 'Portia, Anna,' Louise said, and she began searching through the little piles of papers, mail, phone books, and pencils that covered from end to end the white tile counter that separated the kitchen from the family room. 'Yeah?' Portia asked. Anna looked at her freckle-faced sister, her white, hairless flesh, her wispy brown hair that shone like corn silk. As much as she often hated her, she could understand why her parents were always pawing at her with hugs and kisses: the girl was like a pastry or a sweet. She looked edible. Anna was as small as Portia. But she was all muscle and sinew, as if she were made of telephone cables. No one ever wanted to pinch telephone cables. She rolled the dice and ignored her mother. 'Come here,' Louise said. She continued to shift things around. Portia pushed her doughy rump up and went to the counter. She moved aside an empty box that had held ten Hot Wheels racing cars and handed her mother the pack of unfiltered Camel cigarettes she was most likely looking for. 'I quit.'" Can you imagine what that kind of statement would do to a household of children? The responsibility, the pressure: the freedom. A wave of emotions would wash over you at such irresponsible behavior by an adult. Or is it empowering? Does it build character? (For the rest of this review go to The Nervous Breakdown.)
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Santa Barbara, fifty-something Louise suffers a massive heart attack. She remains in a hospital in critical condition with her prime complaint being the lack of a cigarette or two hundred. Her husband Buzzy the lawyer promised Louise he would conceal her condition from their three adult kids, but could not as he needs them near for his sake. Anna flies in from Vermont; leaving behind a spouse she cheats on due to a sex addiction to run their florist business and their infant. Portia, separated from her cheating spouse Patrick, arrives alone since their daughter Esme lives with her father's lover. TV producer Emery and his boyfriend Alejandro also come from the East Coast; they hope to persuade his older sisters to donate their eggs so that they can raise a baby; they already have selected the chosen female bearer. The bickering horde invade Louise's room causing havoc to the hospital's rule keepers, which in turn elates Louise still a renegade hippie after all those years. The insightful story line rotates focus from the present mostly at the hospital and the past in which each protagonist recalls incidents differently. Louise is the prime player who holds the strong quirky family drama together. Buzzy and the children have flaws that make each seen real and lead to fans empathizing with them; especially Portia who as the middle child became the mom when her older sister and their mother abdicated the role yet her daughter rejects her. Harriet Klausner
Turtlewoman1 More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutlely laugh-out-loud hilarious! It was hands-down the funniest memoir I have read since David Sedaris or Augustin Burroughs. The author has really developed since her first novel, which was somewhat humorous, but seemed to be trying too hard at times. This 2nd novel really imparts the feel of the 70s generation, and the disconnect between parents and children, and or the awkward connection between siblings suffering through the same family drama: Hippie pareents who are more interested in themselves than they are in their children; a sibling whom everyone but the father suspects is gay; an artistic mother who drinks heavily and smokes too much pot; a father who operates in a realm of his own, taking little notice of the disasterous scenarios surrounding him; a Type-A sibling who does everything to excess in order to compete for attention, and a sibling who thrives on empathy and discussing the feelings of others, rather than dealing with a disinigrated marriage. The events Anya Blau describes are so detailed and nuanced that I felt like I was there winessing them all unfold! At once heartbreakingly sad yet so funny I almost peed my pants from laughing! I think there is at least one character in this family that everyone can relate to. Great author with awesome potential! I can't wait to read what she writes next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic read!!!! A great combination of Auguston Burrows and John Irving. Highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Through this very funny and forthright look at an unusual family dynamic (actually far more usual than the family itself imagines), Blau has written a Santa Barbara morality tale. A present-day medical emergency forces three siblings to confront the ways in which their pre-seatbelt and bike helmet 70's upbringing has informed who they've become. The story, told in refreshingly clean prose (there is no overt cleverness to distract--Blau knows her story and its details are more than enough to keep our attention) is delivered from multiple perspectives. Each sibling gets their say on shared experiences, leading to a more compelling understanding of what otherwise might have been just comic set pieces. The juggled points of view are handled seamlessly, many chapters delivering the arc of a good short story. The episodic nature of the time frame also nests cleverly with a series of personal revelations, each shift revealing another portentous layer. Drinking Closer to Home is a lot of fun--too exact and specific to be entirely fiction, but too satisfying to be constrained by memoir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am still scratching my head that this book was .99. What a treat! Smart, funny, touching. I love this family!
Mark Hagenbaugh More than 1 year ago
A must read. This family is outrageous!,
KidLitWriter More than 1 year ago
Anna, Portia and Emery, adult siblings, meet at their parents home after their mother, Louise, suffers a massive heart attack. Dad Buzzy called each one after Louise insisted he not. Louise is thrilled to see her children making one wonder why she did not want Buzzy to call them. While there to comfort their mother and each other, we learn of the childhood days and early adulthoods of each sibling. Anna, Portia and Emery are products of the seventies. Anyone who grew up during that decade will immediately relate. Between these stories is the on-going hospital saga of Louise, a story that highlights the family eccentricities in a way that is funny and at times sad. Each of the characters are well developed. All come to life beautifully as the stories unfold. This is one of the best novels I have read all year. Since it is only February, I must say it is also the best book I read all of 2010. The family is quirky enough to be yours or mine. Each character is unforgettable. There is the first born child, whom the grandparents adore to the exclusion of the others. The youngest child who "gets away with" more than the older kids. Then there is the middle child, the one that easily can go unseen. The family does have their eccentricities, many the source of hilarious moments. The writing is so well done putting down the book was difficult. 337 pages plus an extra 16 took only two days to eat up. This is the page turner, the can't put down, the gotta read this book of the year. My advice? Read this book. You will laugh and cry and be happy you did. Note: received book from author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many reviews called this book "funny" or "hysterical". I have to believe that the people writing these reviews are either FB friends of the author, or they had completely normal (boring) lives. I struggled through 131 pages before deciding that it just wasn't going to get better. I loved "Running With Scissors" and laughed out loud many times while reading it. I expected something similar from this book, but I was very disappointed. I come from a highly disfunctional family and often humor is a coping mechanism. We can relate to other people who deal with situations in the same way. This has no lightness to me. It is more like reading "The Diary Of Anne Frank" but without the social significance. If you want a depressing, boring book about a messed up family to help you feel better about yours, then this is for you. If you want to share a laugh with someone who survived a completly disfunctional family because you did too...this isn't the book for you. All of the characters are sad and pathetic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was a light easy read and easy to connect to the characters... ecspecially if you come from a slightly dysfinctional family. I enjoyed how each character had truly human flaws. The way the family dealt with each person and their issues reminded me so much of my own family. If you laugh at that which breaks your heart and makes you want to cry then it cannot be that bad. Right? This book probably isn't for any you with a stick up your butt or for those who were born without a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at others pain. Or most importantly to laugh at your own pain. Wonderful book! I will definately be looking foward to reading more by this wonderfully funny author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While this family is far different than mine, there are so many situations I could identify with as I grew up during the same time. I read this book in one afternoon because I truly could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The dysfunctional family, we all either know one or are part of one. Very well written story, believable characters and the story of a family that loves each other and understands each other really very well despite what some would call dysfuntional.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny, loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was funny, sad, touching, believable. The family is the picture of dysfunction...but whose isn't? My attention was held and it was entertaining reading about the extended family as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was well written, sometimes when books are written with more than 1 or 2 narrators it can get confusing or boring if not done right. Even going back and forth from history to present it was an easy enjoyable read. I think though everyone may not relate to the exact same issues this family has I think most of us can relate to loving our family and coming together when needed whether we "like" some of our family members or not. I would recommend this book, its funny, sad, and relatable.
DizzyDee More than 1 year ago
Very few books make me laugh out loud. Some of the conversations in this story were hilarious, others poignant. To quote a good friend of mine "there's no such thing as a dysfunctional family - they're just families". I thoroughly enjoyed this book and this family -what a great way to spend a quite, sunny afternoon.
2kat More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly enjoyed the complexity of the characters in this novel. Different and compelling! Am interested in reading other works by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is so irritating! Nook app needs to start reviewing the book reviews because these stupid "chat room" conversations are utterly annoying. Or at least give us a spam button. Kids go to facebook or twitter or read one of the books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The beginning was not great, but i am glad i stuck through because overall this was a very entertaining read
ArthurGuy More than 1 year ago
I read a lot. This book is unbelievably funny and moving and full of surprises. If you've ever thought your family was even slightly dysfunctional and you've wanted to laugh when you felt like having a breakdown over the millions of ways they drive you insane, you should read this book. This family is seriously messed up. They're brutal and relentless and mock each other mercilessly, but they're also so, so funny. I actually snorted out loud reading this book in the waiting room of my doctor's office. The writer makes me feel like a fly on the wall while she airs out every humiliating moment of her family's life. Though it's fiction, I can't help but wonder what her family thinks. I felt like I was snickering at a funeral. You've got to read this book. Then read the funny parts aloud to your friends on the phone. When you hear yourself repeating the outrageous things that come out of the character's mouths, you'll laugh even harder.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Drinking Closer to Home is about one dysfunctional family, but not much different than the thousands of dysfunctional families in this nation. When their mother, Louise suffers a heart attack, her three children come back for ten days and suffer the anxiety that homecomings entice, bringing up childhood fears and secrets, and having to deal with one's siblings. Jessica Anya Blau's novel is amusing look at family and individual relationships. One must read this novel slowly, like sipping a fine wine, although it is not for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you grew up in large family, this story really ticks all the boxes of childhood & teenage years. Your parents seem weird and you are forever against your siblings until an unfortunate event brings you altogether again. Wonderful story !!