A Taxonomy of Barnacles
Wes Anderson’s royal Tenenbaum family would have made good neighbors with the Barnacle clan. Six magnificently twisted sisters, crammed on top of one another in their eccentric father’s Fifth Avenue apartment, compete to see who can best carry on the family name. Will it be pregnant Bell, beautiful Bridget, or impish 10-year-old Benita, who, according to her second-grade teacher, would ”chew glass to win.” As individually amusing as each of these sisters is, New York City emerges as the book’s most interesting character (”The D train…circled the city with the intimacy of a lover. First, it clutched the Lower East Side with adoring thoroughness, next it traced the Manhattan Bridge as though grasping its form”). Droll and sophisticated, A Taxonomy of Barnacles, Galt Niederhoffer’s first novel is a winning screwball comedy that only occasionally becomes too precious for its own good.