“Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres,” is a collection of hybrid literature that provides a starting point for discussing and teaching “individual works that do not replicate any previously existing pattern of literary affiliation. Rather, they take features from multiple parents—multiple genres—and mix them to create a new entity.”
“Family Resemblance” is an excellent instruction guide, an exploration of hybrid literature, and an inspiration for writing students and writers in general.
Editors Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov have collected forty-three examples of the hybrid form and divided them into eight categories: lyric essay, epistolary, poetic memoir, prose poetry, performative, short-form nonfiction, flash fiction, pictures made of words. Each example is preceded by a writer’s statement that gives their take on hybrid literature, along with the personal challenges they faced when using it. These analyses add immense value to a book already packed with theory and practice. Theory begins immediately in Marcela Sulak’s preface, continues with an introduction by Susanne Paola Antonetta and introductions to each of the eight genre categories; it finishes with an afterward by Jacqueline Kolosov, “Teaching Hybrid Literary Genres,” that provides excellent suggestions for how to help writing students find their voice within this model.
It’s easy to understand why writing teachers will treasure this book, and yet I found myself reading it for pleasure. Takashi Hiraide’s “Postcards to Donald Evans” takes us on a journey like no other. This line, “Let me leave it that first day before I knew him, before I loved him,” from Kazim Ali’s “Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities” will always remain with me, as will Maggie Nelson’s first line from “Bluets,” “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.” The excerpt from Gregory Orr’s “The Blessing” where he describes the accidental death of his brother is unforgettable.
Teachers, writing students and seasoned writers will enjoy dipping in and out of “Family Resemblance.” As Sarah Gorham writes,“Each genre has a particular flavor, but really, aren’t they in the end all made of words? …Words: So infinitely flexible, expansive, adaptable, and above all, stimulating.” Love of words provides the vitality that drives “Family Resemblance.” (Natalie Black)
“Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres”
Edited by Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov
Rose Metal Press, 464 pages, $17.95