42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Sweet, sour, bitter and salty....all in one!,
This review is from: Sweet and Low: A Family Story (Hardcover)
Rich Cohen's new book "Sweet and Low" is a breezy and fun-filled romp through the broken fragments of a family that has more ditzy characters than an offbeat novel. The author states on the back cover, "to be disinherited is to be set free" and in his liberation the readers of his book have much about which to cheer. Cohen is wickedly humorous and spares no one and no detail. He gives "dysfunction" a new name.
Ostensibly a story about the discovery of the first widely used sugar substitute, the Cumberland Packing Corporation which packages it and the company's successes and failures, "Sweet and Low" is really about the men and women in the Eisenstadt/Cohen family and what life was like under the surface. Patriarch Benjamin Eisenstadt, the hard luck/good luck founder of the company is the rock that holds the family together. Beyond that, look out. There's the agoraphobic, housebound Aunt Gladys, Uncle ("marvelous") Marvin, the eternal man-child son of Ben, vitriolic grandma Betty and suicidal great-grandma, Bubba. Reading "Sweet and Low" is like watching a tv variety show without the tv. Yet it is author Cohen who really puts everything in perspective. What makes this book so enjoyable is the writing and it is, indeed, very good. Cohen has a way of not only grabbing the reader's attention, but holding it, then guiding it through the twists and turns of his family's "behavior". It is a tour de force. While the author allows himself some bitter feelings (perhaps more wistful, had everyone gotten along) he nonetheless has some nice things to say. His ability to stick the knife in cleanly is balanced by a notion that while people may have bad attributes they aren't necessarily bad people.
"Sweet and Low" could have been just a kiss-and-tell book about a family gone awry. It's much better than that and it's due to Rich Cohen and his marvelous way of telling the family story. I loved "Sweet and Low" and encourage readers to purchase a copy and enjoy it.