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The Family Markowitz

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  546 ratings  ·  67 reviews
"The Family Markowitz is one of the most astute and engaging books about American family life to have come our way in quite a while." --Linda Matchan, Boston Globe

In The Family Markowitz, Allegra Goodman writes with wit and compassion of three generations of Markowitzes making their way in America. At the center is Rose, the cantankerous matriarch, who longs for her earlie
Paperback, 280 pages
Published August 22nd 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published August 22nd 1996)
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Notcathy J
"As short stories, boring; as a novel, pointless."
This story of a family—elderly mother, two grown brothers, and their wives and children—is told through a series of short stories. Each story stands alone and also ties together all the others.

There’s a lot of whining in these stories, and nothing much happens, not a lot of action here. I think this book, like most books about families, is about growing up, growing old, having relationships with people we choose (like husbands and wives) and with people we end up with by chance (in-laws, childr
When I first started to read this book I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or even finish it. I had already read Ms Goodman's novels, KAATERSKILL FALLS and PARADISE PARK, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I just wasn't sure if this would be more of the same ... the same characters...the same issues. ...But I stuck with it because I enjoy her writing so much and I was pleasantly surprised!

THE FAMILY MARKOWITZ is a compilation of short stories describing different members of this complex fam
Jenny Brown
While this is a collection of short stories, they all revolve around one family, over the course of about fifteen years, giving the book much more of a novel feel. In fact, while many of the stories were strong in and of themselves, there were a few that I didn't feel stood up on their own. Because the stories were so heavily linked, though, it made me read the book as a novel, and as such, I wanted more from the characters.

The heart of the stories is the Rose Markowitz, the elderly mother of Ed
LM Yellow
This book is really well written and aside from some boring unnecessary blah blah stuff I really liked the
story. There was a grandmother, her kids, their spouses, her grandchildren and they grow older and things
change tra la la. I cried a bit, because sometimes I look at my toddler who refuses to sit in the bathtub and
spits out large chunks of food to take a drink before returning them to his mouth and it is sad to think of
him as a big teenager or adult man. It shouldn't be sad, because gett
Once again, Allegra Goodman proves herself to be the master of the human psyche. I actually read these stories out of order- years ago, I flipped through "The Four Questions," as it was included in the Norton Anthology of Jewish American literature. I felt confident that I "knew" most of the characters from that Passover seder. Boy was I wrong.

Allegra takes us through 20 years of "slice-of-life" stories dealing with three generations of the Markowitz family, and occassionally the people they bum
Caroline Bell
This book was decidedly medium. Each chapter jumped around from character to character and plot point to plot point, which created a huge lack of continuity and at times made it hard to read. Also, it was just boring. There were some good scenes, and you end up liking Ed, but other than that it was pretty lacking.
Karlo Mikhail
Surprisingly good as a satire on American petty bourgeois domestic and academic life. Also a great period piece of the boom era of the 1990s with its attendant assumptions of the triumph of capitalist utopia, multiculturalism, and liberal democracy.
This is a set of short stories that focus on the Markowitz family: matriarch Rose, who loses her husband and worries her children with her Percocet addiction; her son Henry, who puts aesthetics before his sexual preferences; her other son, Ed, who is in constant simmering crisis about his career and about shifting relationships as his children grow up and he becomes his mother’s caretaker; and Ed’s long-suffering wife, Sarah. The stories cover milestone events in their lives, but Goodman focuses ...more
Ok, I read it. Parts of it I liked and parts of it I thought were cute. I never laughed out loud. And although towards the end of the book I got to like some of the characters a bit more, I never really related to them very much and never got to like (the supposed main character?) Rose. Although described on the back cover as the 'matriarch' of the family, she was not portrayed with the weight of that word and had the focus from the start of the book been on another character it would have been ...more
Jun 29, 2008 Nan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
I checked this book out from the library and left it on a plane. The library replaced it and I checked it out again. I'm happy to say that I finished the book and returned it to my branch without incident. This is a story of a family that has different family members trading off as the narrator. I really liked how you got a sense of the mother and her two adult sons. The first three chapters were fantastic. After that, things got a little chatty and seemed to be focused on odd details. I loved h ...more
I was slow to warm up to this book of related stories. The characters were initially hard to get a handle on. The stories are collected in chronological order, but sometimes the information left out about events that aren't included in the stories confused me. But by the second half of the collection I was hooked. What a wonderful, frequently goofy, eternally flawed bunch we get to follow here. Those big topics that make up the essence of good literature are here-- how do we live, how do we conn ...more
David Jay
I enjoyed one of Goodman's novels, Kaaterskill Falls, very much and was disappointed by this one. It is more a series of interconnected short stories than an actual novel (which is a literary device I tend to like), all involving the Markowitz family, an East coast, upper middle class Jewish family. The characters are realistically written but I found them, overall, unlikeable and had no interest in any of them. The plot, as it was, was uninteresting. Goodman is a very strong writer and there we ...more
A panoramic view of judaism within the microcosm of one family.
Depressing. Spot on.
This is more a 2.5 than a 3. The novel is a collection of stories about members of a family over the course of 25 years with flashbacks to earlier days for each. But the sum of these parts never quite makes it to a greater story -- a novel. It's kind of like a "home for the holidays" movie with the people falling into their usual patterns. We know how each character will react in different situations and at different stages I'm life. There is humor in that, but no great aha moments.
While well-written, there was not much that was memorable in this book. I also am biased against short stories, so a collection of them naturally predisposed me against the book. I enjoyed the different characterizations, but again, there wasn't much that was very interesting in the story/plot. And, I hated all the loose threads (like introduction of characters that never reappeared), but I imagine that's a function of the book being a compilation of short stories.
I was going to give it two stars - but part of my disappointment was because I was expecting a novel and this is a collection of sequential short stories. So it was my own fault for not seeing that before buying. Otherwise - characterization is okay, style is fine. Just a little boring. The beginning couple stories are the strongest and after that the rest seem flat. I will try one of her actual novels to see what she does with a cohesive plot.
I found Goodman's ability to establish and build characters amazing, but wished perhaps that what was more a series of snapshots in the lives of the Markowitz family was more fluidly and completely told. I also felt that perhaps I needed an old Jewish grandmother to truly understand how well she captured the nuances of this family and their changing relationships to one another as time and life's events evolved them as individuals
Once again astute descriptions of people from Goodman - you have got to love them while loathing them. Don't expect action, expect thrilling descriptions of little situations, find yourself shaking your head at these people, but you recognize something of yourself and your crazy family in each of them.
Would have given it 3 1/2 stars if I could. Have to say that I preferred Intuition.
Sue Russell
Because we've been chatting about her...this is my favorite (and first) Allegra Goodman, and it's a short (connected) story collection. I think the later collections are weaker overall. The novels, Kaaterskill Falls and Intuition, are so different from the story collections that it's hard to characterize them as being by the same author.
I have been meaning to read this for years. Goodman is wonderful at interactions among her characters and the characters are well fleshed out. There is a lot of humor and recognizable family combat in this little novel. I always learn something I didn't know about Jewish culture and religion.
I would give this 3.5 - I liked the family but I felt like the characters didn't really change as the book went from start to finish. I didn't think there was a lot of character development. I do like the way the author writes, though. I think maybe just stick to her short stories from now on!
I began this collection of short stories with high expectations, after reading Allegra Goodman's two excellent novels. However, I was very disappointed after reading the first two short stories in the collection and chose not to continue with the book.
N W James
Jun 08, 2011 N W James rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to N W by: Frank
Shelves: 2011, recommended
A decent character study, but not much as far as plot goes. I didn't really get the point. Sorry, Frank.

I wish the book had centered itself around Rose, the matriarch. She was hysterical. I could have read an entire book about her and the interviewer.
I wanted to like this book more. It's well written, and the characters are interesting, but I felt it was trying too hard to be amusing and charming. I'm sure many people like it a lot, but it just didn't work for me.
Glenn Murphy
You don't get inside the characters' heads as much in this story as in her subsequent books, but I still enjoyed it.

"But it is hard to sustain a life with memories, especially when the best memories come from novels."
Jewish genealogy, 3 generations of American Jews, some recognizable, some fabricated from whole cloth. Enjoyable read, but not as compelling as Kaaterskill Falls, read about 10 years ago.
I love the way Goodman writes, but this wasn't wonderful like her Cookbook Collector. It was interesting, but I didn't really identify with or admire any of her characters.
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