The Force of Things: A Marriage in War and Peace is, at its core, the portrait of a bad marriage. It is also the story of the author’s own family, the bad marriage being that of his parents, with his hoarder father (who has a hoarder sister, which creates an occasion for an epic apartment cleaning session in which, amongst other objects, a bicycle is unearthed beneath a mound of yarn — why do archeologists persist in digging in dirt when they could stay in New York and make discoveries?) and his outgoing mother who seemed happiest when spending time away from his dad, entertaining friends. The dad is also a European Jew who narrowly escaped the Fascists from Italy where he had fled from his native Poland but with an invented Latvian identity (to fool the US immigration quotas) while his mother’s family is more than a little anti-semitic, even if the mother herself was more of a free spirit. It’s sometimes a little hard to believe that all these adventures happened in the same family — but it sure makes for a wonderful story.