The Mighty Franks

Farrar. May 2017. 320p. illus. ISBN 9780374210120. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374715960. MEMOIR
OrangeReviewStarAt the center of Frank's extraordinary tale is his Aunt Harriet Frank Jr., a screenwriter perhaps best known for her work with director Martin Ritt. Late in the book, the author comments that he first tried writing about Harriet as a fictional character but was consistently told that people like her just don't exist. Well, they do, and here she is: an insecure and egocentric tyrant who always gets her way. She identifies her nephew early on as the perfect victim and begins stroking his ego by telling him how smart and different he is. She demands that he read the best books, view the best art, and basically take in the best of everything. Yet she seems to care little for him as a person, and as he comes to realize this and starts to rebel, his aunt's outbursts become more extreme and frequent, and their relationship begins to break down irrevocably. Truth is not just stranger than fiction, it's more interesting, too.
VERDICT More than a memoir, this account offers a study of human pathology and should be read widely for its insights into families and the processes of growing up. [Memoir, 3/15/17;]
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