People Are Unappealing

Sara Barron
Three Rivers Press, 2009

I wanted a change of pace in reading. I got it with People Are Unappealing. When I think of a life or way of thinking that is diametrically opposed to mine, I was more inclined to think of rice farmer in China, or drug dealer in Acapulco. Now I know I was also brought up diametrically opposed to living like Sara Barron. Which has a lot of elements that make me feel I missed something. Maybe a lot.

The family characters I’ve heard of before. There’s the hypochondriac, professional mother, the effeminate, show-tunes loving, still manly father, and the often backstage player younger brother; all of them Jewish and smart. Could be any American family from the lens of a New Yorker. But from the desert basin of Salt Lake City, brought up half a century ago, in the city that never laughed, well, when I was a child Sara Barron could have been my rice farmer or drug dealer. I wish she had been because she had much to teach me.

One can be totally screwed by strange relatives, live in a society and times one doesn’t understand or jibe with and find the saving grace of humor. I do think there’s a depth and inside of herself she kept out of the book, but that’s just the point. She introduced it with the characters she surrounds herself in; a cast of characters nearing a needed rest in a psych ward. They are her exoskeleton of alter-egos she can deal with as an “other” for our enjoyment.


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