Saturday, December 21, 2013

Born Weird

Born Weird is a quirky Canadian novel about a dysfunctional family, last name Weird. Five siblings have been blessed/cursed (blursed) at birth by their strong-willed but worried grandma (The Shark) who fears for them, possibly suspecting that the kids’ parents will not provide the protection and tutelage they will need in their lives. Richard, the eldest, has been given the gift of self-preservation, Lucy, the ability to know exactly where to go. Abba maintains hope, Angie always forgives, and Kent, though small, can always prevail in a fight. These gifts, though helpful in many circumstances, cause the lives of the five Weirds to be in such a stranglehold that they are unable to achieve lasting personal attachments so that happiness eludes them.

When the The Shark predicts the precise time of her own death in two weeks time, she charges Angie to collect the other 4 siblings from their various dispersed locations and to arrive at her deathbed if they wish to be relieved of their blursings which have unintentionally made life difficult for each.

The interaction between the siblings, the idiosyncrasies of their parents and grandmother all contribute to make this novel a delightful read. I was hooked from the beginning and was constantly being surprised by the twists in the clever dialogue and also by the gems of wisdom seeded within. What fun it was!

Andrew Kaufman is a Canadian author hailing from Alice Munro’s hometown of Wingham, Ontario. I’m sure he has drawn inspiration from Munro’s amazing body of work, but he has gone in a completely different direction with this whimsical fiction of lives in turmoil. It’s weird, but read it and enjoy.

Kaufman’s other novels (which I have not yet read):

All My Friends are Superheroes
The Tiny Wife
The Waterproof Bible