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The Politics of Adult Families


From John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" to Grace Metalious's "Peyton Place" to Aaron Spelling's "Dynasty," no matter what part of the country you're in, the untimely reveal of buried family disputes has remained at the heart of American fiction. Adrienne Brodeur's summer novel from Simon & Schuster, "Little Monsters," pinpoints itself along the New England coast, on the chilly whaling beaches of Cape Cod, where a wealthy family of thinkers dwells in its own resentments. Brodeur will appear on Thursday, Sept. 7, in Kent, Conn., as part of House of Books new series, "Salon at Swyft." The dinners held in a private room in Ore Hill & Swyft, an upscale wooden tavern known for its wood-fired pizzas, invite guests to chat casually with the writer of the month, breaking from the rigidity of the formal reading and Q&A. The selections have been varied in style and subject, with previous Swyft Salons held for South African short story writer Magogodi oaMphela Makhene's tales of Soweto, "Innards," and Viking editor Jenny Jackson's debut comedy about Brooklyn's 1%, "Pineapple Street."

The daughter of the late New Yorker writer Paul Brodeur, who died this past August in Hyannis, Mass., Adrienne Brodeur was the editor-in-chief of Zoetrope: All Story, a literary magazine she founded with Francis Ford Coppola.

In "Little Monsters," set during the lead-up to the divisive 2016 presidential election, Brodeur's intimately narrated novel, with its unfussy, languid prose, focuses on three candidates who make up the rarely-likable white, educated voter block. Adam Gardner is a cantankerous academic, an oceanology research scientist, and a product of the baby boom who finds fault with every breathing Millennial (with little mind that there are already two generations coming up behind these young professionals). As he struggles with his mental health, and the health care system, his two Gen X-cuspy children, who grew up motherless from a young age, struggle with each other. Ken is a hot-shot financier who has married into even more money and is eager to prove himself to his in-laws by being as "Art of the Deal" as possible. At the same time, his sister Abby is the classic, vaguely political Hillary voter. This sensitive artist has inherited her late mother's Cape Cod studio with a view towards Provincetown, but she can't foresee the political storm on the horizon.

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