Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Warm Fuzzies

by Chris Adrian

The last of the New Yorker's "20 Under 40" summer fiction series is one of the best stories of the last little while.

Adrian's story is all about Molly, one member of the Carter Family Band and, by definition, the Carter family, a large tribe of home-schooled Partridge Family wannabes, who sing and talk about Jesus on small tours of mega-churches.

Molly's parents almost always add one foster child, him or herself always black, to the mix.  Most of these foster children do not last long; the rest of the Carters are rarely able to remember them or note their passage.

When the story begins, Molly finds herself going through a number of changes.  She's developed a hard, cynical, and mean voice in her head which is able to see her father's sad and tyrannical idealism for what it is, just as she can see through the bitchy machinations of her older sister.  When Peabo, the latest foster arrival, comes on the scene, Molly finds him fascinating.  She begins to hold strange conversations with him through their tambourines (their instruments in the family's songs), and their relationship starts to become a little more than that of foster child and sister.

The story is quite amusing as it gives us a glimpse into the Carter family, with their visits to a church where every member of the family ends up speaking in tongues, to their elaborate family prayer rituals.  Adrian is non-judgmental in his writing, which makes his send-up of the family all the funnier.  Highly recommended.

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