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Family Law Paperback – June 1, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A vivid, gorgeously garish, Technicolor portrait of a family. It s impossible not to let oneself go along for the ride and emerge at the book s end enlightened, touched, thrilling with laughter. --Marieke Hardy --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Benjamin Law is a senior contributor to frankie magazine. His work has also appeared in the Monthly, the Big Issue, the Courier-Mail, Growing Up Asian in Australia and The Best Australian Essays. He lives in Brisbane. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Black Inc. (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1863955313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1863955317
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,988,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
In 2010 I had the rare pleasure of loving a book I'd been anticipating for as long as I'd been stalking the author.

Benjamin Law is a freelance writer who first blipped onto my radar when I started reading his pieces in hipster-darling magazine, `Frankie'. He also contributes to `The Good Weekend', `The Monthly' and has written for `The Best Australian Essays' and even appeared on ABC's Q&A. I love him. He's enviably witty, self-deprecating, and writes brilliant argumentative pieces with first-hand experience as his weapon of choice. I'd been looking forward to his novel debut for so long, and when `The Family Law' came along in 2010 I was not in the least bit surprised by the novel's brilliance. . .

`The Family Law' is a biography in 23 parts - as Law recounts mundane and extraordinary familial events through 23 short stories.

Benjamin Law is gut-achingly funny - so funny he's sometimes freakin' painful to read. But he's at his funniest when describing his family and their weird, endearing mannerisms and quirks - like in `Baby Love', in which he writes about his Cantonese mother's horror-filled stories about raising Benjamin and his four other siblings.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Mum also said childbirth was unbearably, gratuitously painful. When I once asked her to compare and rate
each of our births - which was easier, which was faster - she balked. `No birth is easy!' she exclaimed. `Of course a man would ask that question. Men can't even begin to imagine. Can you imagine a lemon coming out of your penis-hole? Yes, yes! That's what it's like! I'd like to see a man squeeze lemons out of his penis-hole. OUT OF YOUR PENIS-HOLE, BENJAMIN.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'm not sure what the other reviewer was going on about - this was an incredibly funny book! I can't remember how many times I had to look away from the book to laugh my head off. Benjamin Law has a wonderful way of telling his stories and I think this a WONDERFUL introduction for those new to Benjamin Law and the type of humour he has.

This book pretty much set me off on a wild chase for all the stories I could find of him online, and I think I've pretty much seen it all.

I read this all in one sitting and I ask those curious about this book to read a few passages :-)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Benjamin Law's book is a memoir, written as a series of self-contained essays, each on a particular aspect of the Law family. It feels as if the essays have been thrown up in the air and included in the book in the order in which they fell, but this actually works, due to the strength of the characters - Benjamin, his siblings, their father, and especially their mother, Jenny - and to Law's ability to craft hilarious stories and write about tricky subjects with a light touch.

Each essay looks at the family from a slightly different angle so that, as I laughed at the goings-on, I got to know the family better (especially Jenny and Benjamin) and increasingly felt real affection for them. Law's main theme is coming of age as gay and Asian on the Sunshine Coast, and his descriptions of this are both funny and moving. Other themes include adapting to a new country and culture, divorce and the often absent workaholic father, violence at school, attitudes to nursing homes, and the time many of his extended family were rounded up as illegal immigrants.

The focus is on telling good stories with humour, rather than on treating issues at depth, and this sometimes produces witty but glib statements such as: "Every marriage begins with passive aggression, but couples soon learn that being passive requires effort. It's easier to be openly hostile."

A funny way to write a memoir, but (mostly) it works. And I suspect that more substantial books from Benjamin Law may be on the way.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Funny book .... relaxing light reading.
The story showed how similar life is from family to family regardless of the ethnic background but highlighted the very significant differences when the family is Asian.
Made me want to buy the second book.
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Format: Paperback
The teen FOB market, current and former, will identify with the material within and have a good chuckle over some of the predicaments faced by the author. Grose, tragic and hillarious at times, it's a wonder he survived the trauma.

Thankfully, the author has grown up rather respectfully as a journalist, columnist and has appeared on numerous occasion as a panelist on ABC's Q&A programme. Articulate, composed and disarmingly engaging on tv where his opinions on a broad spectrum of matters were openly sought, this book is however quite different and written from a juvenile perspective a work in progress from which he has emerged.

Honest, raw and quite often "too much info" nevertheless makes an easy and entertaining read. BLaw is a brave man indeed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having had a similar adolescent experience to the author (same city, similar age, coming out, middle class family etc) i approached The Family Law with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. A number of people i know and local publications has recommended the selection of vignettes about Ben Law's (a gay chinese 20-something journalist/writer) upbringing on Queensland's sunshine coast but I was reluctant to read something that would feel awkward and cliched because of my own similar experiences. Unfortunately my apprehension proved to be justified. Law has written extensively for print and online publications in Australia (Frankie, The Monthly, Qweekend etc) and I have enjoyed many of his articles, which often successfully use his chinese background and family upbringing as a point of reference. The same can't be said for using it as the basis for an entire book. Law's retelling of key moments in his childhood and adolesence, including the divorce of his parents, coming out as gay, the demolition of his childhood home, moving out, his mother's bizarre habits and idiosyncracies etc - often peppered with a liberal dose of 'poo and bum' jokes - may be funny and endearing to those directly involved and his circle of friends, but rarely does the reader get to join in on the joke. Unlike the master of this genre David Sedaris, who has clearly heavily influenced Law's style and approach, none of the stories ever seem to reach the dark comic depths of Sedaris tales of growing up in North Carolina, and there is rarely any successful extrapolation of his experiences and memories to some universal truth or life lesson, to counterbalance the purile family in-jokes. Readers less familiar with Law's background may find his attempts at quirkiness more interesting and endearing than I did, but i was left disappointed that a much-hyped debut failed to live up to expectations.
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