Annabelle Gurwitch says she doesn't write self-help books. The actress, comic, television host and author of memoirs including the New York Times bestseller and Thurber Prize finalist "I See You Made An Effort" instead describes her genre as "self-hurt." And what topic could push that particular button in quite the way that family does?
In her witty and well-researched "Everywhere You Go, There They Are: Stories About My Family You Might Relate To," Gurwitch explores the notion of family itself. There are the inevitable stories about her parents and siblings and extended relations, but there are also tales of her early theater colleagues, her companions in spiritual exploration and the women of a "sisterhood" that turns out to be something else entirely. Throughout, Gurwitch pauses to delve into the scientific and anthropological explanations for why we humans just can't stay away from each other, even as we drive each other nuts.
"No matter how hard you try to escape your crazy family, you just end up in another crazy family," she says. "When I use the word 'family,' I'm using that in the larger sense of the word, all the associations and confederacies and sororities and fraternities that we end up in as people. We join work families, spiritual families — or non-spiritual families." And to those who feel like they've lost those family ties, she says, "Find your tribe. Find your people. They're not always the people that you're related to. They're not always the people you find yourself near. But it's so important."