The Way the Family Got Away: A Novel

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9781568581552: The Way the Family Got Away: A Novel
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In Michael Kimball's disturbing first novel, a three-year-old girl and her seven-year-old brother try to comprehend their family's journey through a series of towns after the death of one of their siblings - she by playing with her doll family in an effort to understand the emotional landscape, and he by meticulously assessing the physical geography: the names of the towns and the things it took them to get there. Their final stop is their grandfather's house, where they're left to face an uncertain future. Through the eyes and in the language of children, Kimball tries to make sense of loss, love, and death.

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About the Author:

In 1998 Michael Kimball received a grant from the prestigious New York Foundation of the Arts. He has published fiction in New Orleans Review, Story Quarterly and The Quarterly . He lives in Texas with his wife.

From Kirkus Reviews:

As the family car inches toward far-off Michigan, two children labor to make sense of their infant brothers death back in Texas. Once the baby, dead of an illness that brought high fever and indelible memories, was embalmed and placed inside a toy box in the trunk, the family packed their remaining belongings and headed for their grandfathers house half a continent away. The situation smacks of an updated As I Lay Dying, and first-novelist Kimball pumps up the parallel by presenting the journey entirely through the alternating narratives of the familys two surviving children, both of whom, like Vardaman Bundren in Faulkners novel, are obsessed with the problem of understanding death. The boy copes with the traumas of death and uprooting by tabulating the household goods the family barters to get from one forgettable little town to the next (We traded my brothers life away to that other family when we traded my brothers cradle and other baby stuff away to them). His younger sister, struggling to recast her doll family as her shattered real family, finds her dead brother wherever she looks (You cant stop dead people from going away to somewhere dead inside you). The melding of the two childishly matter-of-fact voices produces some rude poetry (America gets emptier the farther away you go up into it, avers the brother), but the effect of such relentless literal-mindedness, at first powerful, eventually becomes grueling and finally tedious, like a long car trip with your own parents, even if your dead brother isnt in the trunk. Long before the end, you appreciate why Faulkner surrounded his own child narrator with adults whose take on their journey, if no more perceptive, was inarticulate in refreshingly different ways. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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