Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family is a thoughtful examination of a woman experiencing grief after a horrific event. Clegg is best known for his day job as a literary agent, as well as Ninety Days, a memoir on his crack addiction. Did You Ever Have a Family is his first foray into fiction and it’s a welcome, albeit low key debut.
After a fire kills her daughter, ex-husband, current boyfriend, and her daughter’s fiancée on the night before their wedding, June leaves her hometown and flees to a motel. Around her circle several narratives, from the mother of the groom, a local boy who’s torn between his infatuation with the groom’s mother and his knowledge of what transpired that night, to the owners of the motel. Clegg draws out a number of interesting voices, each with their own stories winding and coiling back towards the central thread of the novel. The use of multiple voices, as well as multiple perspectives makes for a much more unique and interesting book, and Clegg’s decision to tell the events of the night through almost every character but the survivor is smart. Did You Ever Have a Family manages to explore grief without wallowing in it.
Any Cop?: This is a great debut which is deserving of your attention.