Eli: I’ve always wanted to be a Tenenbaum, you know?
Royal: Me too. Me too.
Eli: It doesn’t mean what it used to though, does it?
– Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums
“It’s so strange, she thinks, the sorts of things we need from other people. Sometimes one of those needs is to be needed.”
– Leyna Krow’s I’m Fine, But You Appear to Be Sinking
What you’ll find with this movie and short story collection pairing:
- A person steeped in fraudulence compelled to insult others in order to feel less phony
- Intense devotion to sectors of academia that are tinged with a romantic quaintness
- The interaction of hilariously infantile competitive spirits
- Spelunking the sizeable gap between outward success and inward growth
- Precocious children behaving more maturely than their parents
- The fallout from one character expecting more from a relationship than the other person involved
- Entanglements filled with exotic animals, humor, melancholy, family dynamics and charming peculiarities
- Fragile egos partaking in adventures, accompanied by both a strong sense of wonder and contrasting self-doubt
- Total immersion in fascinating subjects not only to avoid insecurities but to actually take on the identity associated with the subject
- Scenes replete with nostalgia but also creating their own nostalgia (since this is a movie and a book that people will want to return to again and again)
Whether the character always wanted to be a Tenenbaum or an astronaut, no matter how accurate that desire really is, it springs from a longing to be labeled as something that was once, or perhaps still is, elevated in the character’s memory.
Each room in the stately Tenenbaum brownstone on Archer Avenue is as iconic as the characters that represent them. Every family member is intriguing enough to stand alone, but an even more powerful, Gestalt-y force when combined, much like Krow’s debut story collection.