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The New Yorker Radio Hour

Noah Baumbach’s Unhappy Families

In his review of “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” the New Yorker critic Anthony Lane paraphrased no less an author than Leo Tolstoy. “All happy families are alike,” Lane wrote, but “every unhappy family, in its own way, belongs in a Noah Baumbach movie.” In films like “The Squid and the Whale” and “Margot at the Wedding,” Baumbach shows a particular feel for family dynamics, and for characters who are messed up and exasperating but feel as real as the people around you. “The Meyerowitz Stories” stars Dustin Hoffman as an artist long past his prime, and Adam Sandler as one of his sons. Sandler’s character has moved back home to his father’s house, and, though the world might judge him a failure, his relationship with his own daughter redeems him. Noah Baumbach talked with The New Yorker’s Susan Morrison about how families judge success and failure. Plus, Erica Jong talks about her relationship with her grandfather, their visits to the American Museum of Natural History (across the street from their apartment building), and how his devotion to her in her childhood gave her the confidence to succeed as a writer.

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