Someday This Will Be Funny
“But There’s A Family Resemblance”
“But There’s a Family Resemblance” is from Lynne Tillman’s collection Someday This Will be Funny (Red Lemonade 2011). Tillman is a novelist, short story writer, and cultural critic. She is currently Professor/Writer-in-Residence in the Department of English at the University at Albany and is the author of five novels, three collections of short stories, one collection of essays, and two other nonfiction books.
Tillman had this to say about how she came to write her story: Curator Ralph Rugoff put together an art exhibition called “Shoot The Family” — a show of contemporary photographers’ pictures of families, sometimes their own — and he asked me to write a piece for the catalogue.
I think about photography a lot, and often write stories for artists and museum catalogues. The hardest part was finding a voice to tell the tale; it always is. I wanted a character who was both knowledgeable about art and wacky. When I decided the narrator could be a cultural anthropologist who studies family images, especially his own, the story opened up to me. I could have my protagonist thinking about photography, knowing something about it, having ideas, good and weird, and I could bring in his feelings about his own family, and himself. The mix of subjectivity and objectivity is something I’m drawn to writing about.
I decided on a male narrator, because I knew I wanted to write my next novel from a young man’s point of view. (That’s what I’m working on now.) For me, it’s all about voice, not sex or gender — but who is telling the story. The point is to write a specific character — male or female — and once you have that character in mind, once you hear the voice in your head, then you can discover the story in the way he or she thinks. In the novel I’m writing now, my character’s name is Ezekiel Hooper Stark — Zeke Stark was born, so to say, in “But There’s A Family Resemblance.”