'Worse Than Yours' Shows Bad Is a 'Relative' Term Headed to an annual family gathering? Wish you didn't have to deal with your family? Justin Racz and Alec Brownstein, authors of 50 Relatives Worse Than Yours, identify characters you might find gathered around the punch bowl.
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'Worse Than Yours' Shows Bad Is a 'Relative' Term

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'Worse Than Yours' Shows Bad Is a 'Relative' Term

'Worse Than Yours' Shows Bad Is a 'Relative' Term

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Debbie Elliott.

It's Christmas Eve. Maybe you're driving to Grandma's house for that annual family gathering, which would be lovely, if only you didn't have to deal with your family. To make you feel a little better about your family follies, we've invited in Justin Racz and Alec Brownstein. They're the authors of "50 Relatives Worse Than Yours."


Mr. JUSTIN RACZ (Co-author): Hi.

Mr. ALEC BROWNSTEIN (Co-author): How you doing?

ELLIOTT: Some of these people really are my relatives. Were you inspired by real life? Like, you know, I know the shrimp ring bringer.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: We have the same grandmother? Definitely inspired by real life, although we might--may have to go into hiding after this.

ELLIOTT: Let me just list a few of the relatives in this book. There's the back on the singles scene dad. There's Grandpa Speedo, the slightly racist grandparents. These pictures, are they really pictures of your relatives?

Mr. RACZ: Yes. These photos are ripped out of family photo albums, so, for example, shrimp ring bringer is the photo of shrimp rings that my grandmother used to bring, 30 shrimp for $2.99. It's quite frightening.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: With cocktail sauce.

Mr. RACZ: Right.

ELLIOTT: And some of the others?

Mr. RACZ: Slightly racist grandmother was a grandmother but on the other side and you have the force-feeder, which is my great-grandmother. She was assured that I was anorexic just because I wouldn't have like three helpings, you know.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. The back on the singles scene dad is one close to my heart as my father re-entered the singles scene during my adolescence and it's not a good time for kind of you and your dad to be out there looking for someone new.

ELLIOTT: So what, do people think that you put them in this little book to make fun of them?

Mr. RACZ: Luckily celebrity has trumped dignity in our society, so I think I'm in the clear.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: Also we tended to try to use photographs of people who are dead because they're less likely to sue from beyond the grave.

ELLIOTT: Now your book has these little profiles and mottos for some of these people. Would you like to share a few mottos with us?

Mr. RACZ: Beside the photo of the gold digger, which is the trophy wife, her motto is, `No money, no honey.'

ELLIOTT: Also named?

Mr. RACZ: Pumpkin.

ELLIOTT: Pumpkin. Oh, OK.

Mr. RACZ: My father is on to his fifth wife actually.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: Another great motto--This is Alec--is the really firm hand-shaker. And the really firm hand-shaker is oftentimes an uncle who, you know, his idea of manliness is how firm a handshake you give. So you really have to avoid him to keep your hands from being crushed in his vicelike grip. His motto is, `Put her there. What? You call that a handshake?'

ELLIOTT: So I'd like to know, do each of you have your very favorite in this book that you'd like to share with us?

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: My favorite is probably Grandpa Speedo. Grandpa Speedo also hits close to home and I probably shouldn't mention specifically who, but I do have a close relative who--I guess he's trying to shave seconds off his lap time or get that all-over bronze tan, but he likes to spend time by the pool and by the ocean in a Speedo, and it's especially embarrassing when you have, you know, friends and neighbors dropping by the pool or dropping by your blanket at the beach. It kind of makes for an uncomfortable day.

ELLIOTT: And what's with the perfect family? That's the first entry in this book and I'm not sure I like them very much.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: We're very envious. We're soci--schadenfreude is the pleasure of taking. It's joy at other people's misfortune.

Mr. RACZ: Right.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: And you're getting that with the perfect family. They--you know, the kids went to the Ivy League schools. You know, the father is great looking, has all this hair; looks 15 years younger than he really is. And they're really, really nice and happy. And you're looking for the flaw. And you can't find it. So it really puts up a mirror to your own flaws and that's why you'd rather not be at their house, which is obviously much better than yours for the holidays.

Mr. RACZ: Yeah, although Ted Bundy looked pretty normal. He looked like a pretty clean-cut guy from the outside. And so, you know, you're hoping that the perfect family has that dirty secret as well.

ELLIOTT: Justin Racz and Alec Brownstein are the authors of "50 Relatives Worse Than Yours." Thanks for joining us and I hope that your relatives don't give you too much grief this holiday season.

Mr. BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

Mr. RACZ: Bye, Debbie.

ELLIOTT: To see some of the 50 relatives, go to our Web site, npr.org.

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