All in the Family

In their interview with siblings-in-writing Ben and Jen Percy, Salon points out that similar instances of “brother sister acts” are rare.  When I stopped to consider this I came up only a handful, most of which came from literary families of centuries past: the Wordsworths, Brontes, Alcotts, Rossettis, etc.  I can think of sisters—Margaret Drabble and A.S. Byatt—but their strained relationship might argue that most families can raise only one writer. Do any of you have siblings who write? Is it a bond, a point of contention, competition, or (in this market, especially) commiseration?

Apropos of siblings, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik and his sister Alison, a psychology professor, have produced a joint review of recently published THE SIBLING EFFECT by Jeffrey Kluger   In hindsight, the piece seemed more about the clever Gopnik clan than the Kluger book, but I suppose that further makes the point that some topics–sibling relationships among them–are ever-green, and for this reader (the youngest of five children) endlessly fascinating. Kluger’s argument, that siblings make us who we are, is not especially earth-shattering, but is a fine example of the way in which an artful blend of personal narrative and research-driven reportage can render the familiar new again.

6 Responses to All in the Family

  1. Teri Carter says:

    This reminds me of the Vanity Fair essay a few years ago by Dominick Dunne, after his brother, John Gregory Dunne, passed away. I just read it a week or so ago. Painful.

  2. Tegan says:

    I just realized that Maile Meloy (BOTH WAYS IS THE ONLY WAY I WANT IT and the upcoming kids’ book APOTHECARY) and Carson Meloy (WILDWOOD)are siblings! Then there’s Mary Guterson (WE ARE ALL FINE HERE) and her brother David Guterson (SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS)… David & Amy Sedaris, too.
    My sister, Narissa Willever, has always been a writer, “self-publishing” books since she could tape and staple and recently published in magazines. I think her creativity with fiction definitely inspires me, but may also be why I’m drawn to writing nonfiction myself. I think it’s definitely a bond to have a sibling who can riff on ideas and encourage dreams of publication.

  3. Ciara says:

    Dear no, I don’t even have siblings who read! My brothers are firm techies.

  4. My brother and I are both writers. We are also each others’ critique partners. And we go to conferences together. We’re both querying different books at the moment, totally differnt genres, so there is a little healthy competition, but we both realise getting published can be a roll of the dice, ie the right book hits the desk of the right agent/editor at the right time.

    We’ve talked about collaborating on a novel, and have thrown ideas around but nothing concrete at this stage. Who knows what the future holds?

  5. D. A. Hosek says:

    There’s also Evelyn and Alec Waugh in the sibling act thing. I’m one of three brothers, my oldest brother has published a short story in Analog, his twin wrote for a few TV shows in the 90s and I’ve published some graphic design articles but no fiction (yet).

  6. Sarah Henson says:

    My brother and I both write. I write fiction (mostly YA) and he writes nonfiction (currently studying journalism at Ole Miss). We have a little competition but support each other and critique one another’s pieces. I’m always proud when one of his articles gets picked up by a paper, and he’s been standing beside me in my quest for publication. It would be great to work together on something, but our styles wouldn’t mesh well. Nevertheless, our writing is one thing that draws us closer together.

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