A hilarious new collection of essays from New York Times bestselling author Annabelle Gurwitch
When Annabelle Gurwitch was a child, surrounded by a cast of epically dysfunctional relatives, she secretly prayed that it was all a terrible mistake. Suffering from a colossal case of “family envy,” Gurwitch began seeking out other forms of community. If she’s learned anything, it’s that no matter how hard you try to escape a crazy family, you just end up in another crazy family.
Using her own clan of hucksters and scam artists as inspiration, Wherever You Go, There They Are unpacks and redefines our ideas of community and belonging. In her essays, Gurwitch explores family mythologies, the fragility of sisterhood, the rituals and rites of passage into urban tribes, the seductive charm of a cult, and the spectacularly daunting search for the community where her aging parents will spend the last chapter of their lives.
With a wry wit and healthy dose of irresistible self-deprecation, Gurwitch asks: Who and what makes a family in our modern society? Is it our blood relations, the people we work with, pray with, our pets? By turns hilarious and deeply moving, Wherever You Go, There They Are is an irreverent, laugh-out-loud examination of family—both those that we join unwittingly and those we join on purpose.
About the Author
Annabelle Gurwitch is an actress and the author of I See You Made an Effort (a New York Times bestseller and Thurber Prize finalist); You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up (coauthored with Jeff Kahn); and Fired! (which was also a Showtime Comedy Special). Gurwitch gained a loyal following during her stint cohosting Dinner and a Movie on TBS and years as a regular commentator on NPR. She’s written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Hollywood Reporter. Gurwitch was the news anchor on HBO’s Not Necessarily the News and hosted WA$TED on Planet Green network. Her acting credits include Seinfeld, Boston Legal, Dexter, and Melvin Goes to Dinner. A veteran of many lauded and even more misguided theatrical productions, she regularly performs at arts centers around the country. Gurwitch is a Jewish mother, a reluctant atheist, and an ardent environmentalist. She is empty nesting in Los Angeles.
“A smart, edgy writer…As a memoirist, Gurwitch succeeds by evoking emotions that cut to the core of our humanity, and giving us laughs along the way.”
—Mort Zachter, Los Angeles Review of Books
“A vivacious confessional… The memoir’s madcap joy is the entire Gurwitch clan of scenery chewers…With her moonshine-smuggling forebears and her brothel matron great-grandmother, Gurwitch joins the shell-shocked ranks of dysfunctional-family chroniclers Augusten Burroughs and Sean Wilsey.”
—Natalie Beach, O Magazine
“Sagacious wit and soulful insights with a dash of Nora Ephron.”
—Cynthia Romanowski, Coast Magazine
"Once I started Wherever You Go, There They Are, I couldn’t put it down. This book is hysterically, laugh-out-loud funny—take it on an airplane and be prepared to enjoy your flight."
—Judy Greer, actress and author of I Don't Know What You Know Me From
“I love spending time under the spell of Annabelle Gurwitch, who lived all these crackpot adventures so we don’t have to. Her unforgettable stories about family and other disasters remind us how insane this world can be, and how necessary our laughter.”
—Sarah Hepola, author of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget
“I had to invent a word to describe this book. It’s “Luffaw”: a guffaw with a poignant “awww” as well. You'll relate to Annabelle Gurwitch’s stories about finding your people and working with the ones you were given.”
—Jen Kirkman, author of I Can Barely Take Care of Myself
“Annabelle Gurwitch takes a sharp-eyed, un-fool-able, and hilarious look at her family's loopy pursuit of the American Dream in Wherever You Go, There They Are. Wherever she goes, you'll want to follow her!”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
“Annabelle Gurwitch's book is really funny. That is, when you aren't choking up, you'll be laughing. Her parents are lovably infuriating and her travels among atheists, secular humanists, and new-agey summer campers are not only hysterical, but important, and a reminder that family is where you find it.”
—Julia Sweeney, author of If It’s Not One Thing It’s Your Mother and God Said Ha!
“Annabelle Gurwitch picks up the mantles of Nora Ephron and David Sedaris with unapologetic irreverence and lovably brutal self-deprecation. As she ponders why families are so impossible to escape, you’ll want to hold your own crazy loved ones closer and perhaps—like Annabelle—even consider breastfeeding your cat.”
—Faith Salie, author of Approval Junkie
“In Wherever You Go, There They Are Annabelle Gurwitch takes inspiration from her own life to examine that most horrible of all human conditions: family. She makes a compelling case for community, while arguing for a definition that eschews tribalism. This hilarious and insightful book reminds me why I'm so, so happy that I didn't have children!”
“Reading Annabelle Gurwitch feels like staying up all night in a freewheeling conversation with my funniest, wisest, most magnetic friend. Wherever You Go, There They Are is required remedy for everyone desperate for a good, hard laugh at the vexing, heart-swelling madness we call family.”
—Maria Semple, author of Today Will Be Different and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
“Annabelle Gurwitch tackles every life passage, epic or trivial, with a courageous wit that makes even the darkest moments more bearable. Wherever You Go, There They Are hilariously explores the frustrations, catastrophes, and unforgettable thrills of navigating life with that gaggle of lunatics known as family.”
—Heather Havrilesky, author of How to Be a Person in the World and Disaster Preparedness
“Annabelle Gurwitch claims to be related to her nutty family, but I suspect she’s really the secret love child of Nora Ephron and Groucho Marx. She’s an old-fashioned wit for the post-modern age, a curmudgeon with a deep well of empathy and a genuinely good soul. I’m so glad she’s back with another book.”
—Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable