With Teeth: A Novel

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Kristen Arnett Seeks the Unreliable Narrator in Every Family


At Autostraddle, Kristen Arnett discusses the inspiration behind her latest novel, With Teeth, and her ongoing obsession with dysfunctional families. “I’m obsessed with writing about families and thinking about families because families are so fucked up,” Arnett says. “It’s the most fun thing to write about. Every family, even families that are doing okay, have some fucked up elements to them. So I wanted to write about lesbians who were obviously very fucked up in their family and what that looks like both from the outside and what that looks like from the inside. Think about it this way — everybody in a family is an unreliable narrator. Even families who share the same stories don’t tell those stories in the same way. I wanted it to be this claustrophobic, sometimes terrifying, feeling story of how motherhood and queerness in this specific space could feel weirdly oppressive. You don’t understand yourself and the dysfunction gets to a point where it turns into this cyclical bad way to behave.”

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