Paul Theroux’s Mr. Bones is a brilliant study of family dynamics. The narrator describes his father as a heartbreakingly kind milquetoast with a dead-end life and an unappeasable wife. When the father turns to a second life as a blackface performer in a minstrel show, the narrator’s queasiness is more than just palpable – it’s gut-wrenching, as he’s both sympathetic to his father’s desperate need for escapism and yet justifiably ashamed of his behavior. Even better, the story doesn’t end with a cop-out insanity plea; the father doesn’t go insane doing it, he does it to keep from going insane. It’s messy, funny, pathetic, and rendered completely true to life – that is, if discovering your own father in blackface could ever be called as such.