Janey Bennett's Reviews > Running in the Family

Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
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's review
Jun 29, 2009

it was ok
Read in June, 2009

I don't know what to make of this book. It's an account of generations of wild, impetuous, narcissistic people, colonials in an exotic location (Sri Lanka), behaving badly and then destructively, dying, divorcing, drinking, described with a distance, a dissociation, that makes them both part of the "I say, Old Chap" colonial tradition and a heartbreaking journey for a sensitive child of such people. I know why he wrote it: he puts these large characters in a shopcase and can look at them from some safety. It's amazing he became the writer he is (one of my favorites!) after such an early life, but I don't find anything to enlarge my understanding of these narcissists from his description. He stays with the gags. Compare this to Alfred and Emily, by Doris Lessing.

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