The Story of Suburban Rhonda
December 11, 2011 5:49 AM Subscribe
Looking for some suburban/small-town fiction or memoirs - think Tom Perotta, Lake Wobegon, or Northern Exposure.
posted by mippy to Society & Culture (38 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Basically, I want something that's a little light but not literary junk food; something about people's lives and dreams but not in a way that reads like a heartwarming TV movie. I have no idea what this genre is called, other than that it somehow melds literary fiction with the downhomeyness of those books with detective cats or recipes ending each chapter. They're oft set in American small towns or suburbia, and more likely than not show a little bit of darkness or creepiness behind the picket fence.
Examples of books that have the feel I'm looking for:
*Mailman - J Robert Leonnard
* most of AM Holmes' novels, save The End of Alice (which you do NOT want to read on a packed commuter train...)
*The Mammoth Cheese - Sheri Holmann
*Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (though this was a book I admired rather than enjoyed fully for some reason)
*The Abstinence Teacher/Little Children/Election - Tom Perotta
*The Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani - this is a bit too soapy but I enjoyed it anyway; the rest of her novels were just too sappy for me
* Bee Season by Myla Goldberg (?)
* Name All The Animals by Alison Smith/Dress Codes by Noelle Howey - these are both memoirs which have a lot in common with the fiction already mentioned. (Tried Haven Kimmell and didn't like her.) I absolutely loved both of them, and generally enjoy memoirs about the lives of ordinary people (as opposed to showbiz autobiographies).
Lisa Jewell's books, whilst not American, have a similar feel. As does The Help, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, although those are focused around particular historical events. (I absolutely loved Sunnyside by Glenn David Gould, which was also a historical novel that I devoured like a cheap thriller, but not sure it fits in to this millieu so that's a post for another day!) I don't mind this, or a mystery element, but it can be hard to find the good stuff in amongst the books with big eyed moppets on pastel covers once you are looking at anything that's troubled the bestseller list. It can be difficult to find great mass-market fiction when you don't feel like reading yet another 500 page tome on post-colonial experiences during late modernity.
Is there a name for this type of book? And can you recommend others?