22 March 2009

Book: Decoding family myths

Although there's no Jewish connection in this book, we know there are universal similarities when it comes to family history, myths and legends.

The family at the heart of Danish author Morten Ramsland's "Doghead" (Thomas Dunne Books) seems like most ordinary families, according to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune review.

Ugly truths in family histories have a way of getting pasted over with flowery facades; a certain level of denial seems to be required for a clan of people to continue associating with each other through the generations.

But it's not only the bad acts that get mislabeled on the family bookshelf. Long-held grudges, feuds and imagined slights often conceal a sweeter picture than the collective memory has created.

In Morten Ramsland's very popular Danish novel "Doghead," his first to be translated into English, a matriarch's impending death instigates an accounting of all these family myths -- the good and the bad.

And, while the ultimate uncoding of the family's mysteries gets to be a bit of a gimmick, Ramsland's multigenerational family saga is a complex, engrossing tale of unique characters in situations that are sometimes funny, sometimes wrenching, often outrageous and fantastical, but always human and believable.
The narrator returns to Denmark to see his dying grandmother. He and his sister decide to take a look at the family history and its legends. They fill in the holes and investigate the lies, half-truths and misunderstandings of the family.

This sounds like an interesting read for genealogists.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Schelly! It's not like I NEED another book...but that never has stopped me from buying one. This looks like one I'll have to get.