from my bookshelf: the nest by cynthia d’aprix sweeney


the plumb family orbits around “the nest,” their joint trust fund which they are a few months away from receiving at the beginning of this story. the plumbs get together to have an intervention with their oldest brother, leo, who has just returned home from rehab; leo has endangered the nest as a result of a car accident he was in, involving a 19-year-old female passenger. this story highlights the tense and complicated web that money weaves into family, and explores the tangled, well, nest, that makes a family unit.


“He hesitated. Above him, an ear-splitting screech. He looked up to see three enormous crows, perched on one of the few trees that had already dropped its leaves. They were all squawking at once, as if they were arguing about his next move. Directly beneath, in the midst of the stark and barren branches and at the base of a forked limb, a mud-brown leafy mass. A nest. Jesus.”

“The furniture looked like castoffs, what Jack thought of as the divorced-man’s special. Two overstuffed flowery and worn sofas probably bestowed by a concerned female relative or friend. A sagging wicker bookcase, which housed a bunch of true crime paperbacks, out-of-date phone books, and an abandoned glass fish tank one-quarter full of loose change. The coffee table was covered with a pile of New York Posts turned to completed Sudoku puzzles.”

“Walker liked to say that he’d been born gay and middle-aged. He’d grown up in Greenwich Village; his parents were roving adjunct professors, self-anointed socialists who intermittently practiced open marriage and dabbled in bisexuality and refused the tenure track because it was nothing more than a union to protect the interests of the already-coddled upper class. When Walker came out to them in high school, it had all the Sturm und Drang of him announcing that he was switching from violin to cello.”

“And it was at that exact moment on the day after meting with Nathan, sitting in Stephanie’s kitchen, watching a fat slice of sun creep across the marble countertop and magnify every discoloration and imperfection, mulling the day ahead, that he started to feel the familiar darkness gathering inside, the glint of fear around its edges.”

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