Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
Lucas and Katya spend a year in love as boarding school seniors and have a baby. Their parting leaves Lucas estranged throughout daughter Vera’s childhood; he eventually graduates to being a weekend dad.
At 16, Vera goes to a party she shouldn’t have, which ends with self-inflicted bloody wrists; in the psych ward, she’s officially diagnosed with “bipolar I with psychotic features.” Lucas takes her to Vilnius, Lithuania, admitting it’s “an absurd idea … whisking her off to a strange Eastern European vacation in the middle of a mental health crisis.” The decision is not completely arbitrary – Vera has been deemed stable, and Lucas (therefore Vera) has family roots, including a mythical grandmother who survived the Nazis.
The not-quite-two weeks – narrated by Lucas, recorded by Vera in emails to her boyfriend, the eponymous Fang – has, of course, life-altering results. Narrated by Thorne Stephen, whose careful control makes even the most shocking episodes seem practically ‘normal,’ Fang redefines and rewrites family history, family legends, and family expectations with incisive bite and unpredictable revelations. Voyeuristic fans of dysfunctional drama with darkly comic complications – think Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest or Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang (no relation!) – will enjoy listening in.