All happy families are alike, so no one wants to read about them. Unhappy families, however, spawned a publishing mega-trend called misery memoir. This led to bookshops creating entire new shelving sections devoted to ‘Painful Lives’, filled with titles like No Mummy! and Please Daddy Stop!, which were pretty criminal in themselves. This particular publishing trend seemed to go on forever, so it’s a relief to find, at last, that the family memoir is moving onto something far more interesting.
Probably the most original family memoir to emerge this year is Animal Magic: A Brother’s Story by Andrew Barrow, a work of unwavering devotion to the idiosyncrasy and scatological creativity of a younger brother. Barrow’s tender, inspired memoir recounts the life of Jonathan, an aspiring novelist who was killed