Beautiful Island, Impossible Family

From The Washington Post:

Book To catch the spirit of Elizabeth Kelly's first novel, you've got to scream the title in hysterical fury: “Apologize, Apologize!” The subject of all that chiding is long-suffering Collie Flanagan, the only sane member of a wealthy family of alcoholics, Marxists, playboys, media barons and pigeon racers. As described in Kelly's deliciously witty prose, these are people you can't imagine living with, but can't resist reading about.

The author is a Canadian journalist with an acute sense of absurdity and the arch style of a modern-day Kinsley Amis. If her novel as a whole is somewhat lumpy and poorly paced, its parts are splendid. The first half of the story takes us through a series of eyebrow-raising incidents in the zany Flanagan home — “a paean to the cult of narcissism.” The family lives on Martha's Vineyard with a raucous collection of dogs “in a house as big and loud as a parade,” Collie says. “The clamor resonated along the entire New England coastline.” Ploddingly normal and responsible, the teenaged Collie toils away like Marilyn Munster among creatures of monstrous self-absorption. “The most outrageous thing I ever did as a kid,” he says, “was drink Pepsi before ten o'clock in the morning.”

More here.