The Mighty Franks: A Memoir
A story at once extremely strange and entirely familiar - about families, innocence, art and love. This hugely enjoyable, totally unforgettable memoir is a classic in the making. 'My aunt called our two families the Mighty Franks. But, she said, you and I, Lovey, are a thing apart. The two of us have pulled our wagons up to a secret campsite. We know how lucky we are. We're the most fortunate people in the world to have found each other, isn't it so?' Michael Frank's upbringing was unusual to say the least. His aunt was his father's sister and his uncle his mother's brother. The two couples lived blocks apart in the hills of LA, with both grandmothers in an apartment together nearby. Most unusual of all was his aunt, 'Hankie': a beauty with violet eyelids and leaves fastened in her hair, a woman who thought that conformity was death, a Hollywood screenwriter spinning seductive fantasies. With no children of her own, Hankie took a particular shine to Michael, taking him on Antiquing excursions, telling him about 'the very last drop of her innermost self', holding him in her orbit in unpredictable ways. This love complicated the delicate balance of the wider family and changed Michael's life forever.
'An utterly magical book. Michael Frank inherits Truman Capote's glorious ability to recreate the past in an act of exquisite, knowing retrieval. Set on the glamorous, conflicted fringes of 20th century Hollywood, Frank's memoir is a glittering, happy-sad evocation of his elegant, tyrannical, stylish aunt and the rest of his extraordinary family. I hung on every word, spying through his child's eyes. This is intense and lyrical prose: I never wanted it to stop.' Philip Hoare 'P.G. Wodehouse could not have invented Michael Frank's aunt. An astonishing story of a relationship and a family that ends up the wrong side up and inside-out. Beautiful, strange and true.'Ian Sansom 'The Mighty Franks is very easy to love and very hard to put down. It is a terrific portrait of Los Angeles at a particular time for all of us who ever fantasized about growing up with pools, palm trees, and, yes, even the occasional star. Moving, wonderfully written, and marvelously written, it is filled with characters who love you, hug you, drive you crazy, and sometimes make you cry.' George Hodgman, author of Bettyville 'To paraphrase Tolstoy, interesting families are unhappy in mysterious ways, and in this subtle memoir full of hard-won wisdom, Michael Frank gives us an indelible portrait of his own. His imperious, beautiful, infuriating Aunt Hankie, in particular, is one of the great Difficult Women of contemporary literature.' Judith Thurman 'A tremendously smart and beautiful portrait of one of the most interesting and memorable families I've encountered. Crackling with sorrow and wit, Michael Frank has written a gorgeous, moving and intensely compassionate memoir that will stay with me for a long, long time. An astonishing book.' Molly Antopol 'Be careful when you start reading The Mighty Franks since you won't be able to stop. As finely drawn as it is acutely observed-painful, honest, evocative, spare-this portrait of an extraordinary family is a work of art.' Jean Strouse
Michael Frank's short fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Yale Review, Salmagundi, Glimmer Train, and Tablet, among other publications. His fiction has been presented at Symphony Space's Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short Story, and his travel writing has been collected in Italy: The Best Travel Writing from The New York Times. He served as a Los Angeles Times book critic for nearly ten years. He lives in New York City and Liguria, Italy.