Family Planning

Tim Parks, Author
Tim Parks, Author Grove/Atlantic $17.95 (285p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1139-5
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Schizophrenic Raymond Baldwin sends pornographic letters to his siblings, assaults his parents, and at times believes he is a Moslem fanatic. Raymond is the albatross around his English family's neck. His mutton-headed, absentee father and meddling mother can't handle him; his sister, who's ghostwriting a rock 'n' roll book, and her American husband, a conceited academic, have their own worries. Rounding out this motley clan are a pair of fraternal twins, one a preening snob, the other a political hanger-on and moocher who gushes over his married mistress while wooing his left-wing Italian girlfriend (``It is the capitalism which has destroyed the family,'' she writes). Brilliantly original, painfully funny, sane and bawdy, this semi-epistolary novel maps the vast emotional distances that can exist between blood relations. Self-interest is the cardinal rule governing all these fools except for Raymond, and he, alas, is mad. But his manic yawp crystallizes the pain of wounds that never heal as he exposes an icy coldness at the heart of the family and, by implication, of Thatcher's England. Parks's ( Loving Roger ) tragicomic satire is not to be missed. (Sept.)
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