A Field Guide to the North American Family: An Illustrated Novella - Garth Risk Hallberg

Staff Pick

Described as an “illustrated novella,” and looking like a quirky coffee table book, A Field Guide to the North American Family (Knopf, $22), by Garth Risk Hallberg, is neither. This work, which Hallberg wrote before his 2015 New York epic, City on Fire, is an ingenious maze of a narrative based on the concept of the North American Family. Reminiscent of Lydia Davis’ seemingly quotidian pieces of pointed brilliance, Hallberg’s work is multi-layered, surprising, and deft. At one level the book uses a series of flash-fictions to recount the story of two families. At another, it’s an index of terms that readers can reference while reading the main plot—or savor for the wisdom they offer on their own. Then there are the photos. Each episode comes not only with its keywords but with a visual image. These are sometimes directly related to the text, like conventional illustrations, but often their relationship to the narrative is more elusive. Some pages look as if they’ve been torn from one scrapbook and pasted into this one, others look fresh and new. Grab this emotional map of North American family life and get ready to wander – it’s sure to be a warm, nostalgic trip.

A Field Guide to the North American Family: An Illustrated Novella By Garth Risk Hallberg Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101874950
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - October 31st, 2017