Image by Ivy Sanders Schneider

No Returns | On Family Functions and Dysfunctions

Dan Brooks, Elisa Gonzalez, Gaby Del Valle, Karim Kazemi, Lydia Kiesling, Nancy Ko, Nawal Arjini, Noelle Bodick, P.E. Moskowitz, Paul McAdory, S.C. Cornell

In December, The New Yorker asked, “How Did Polyamory Become So Popular?” in a piece that tracked the rise of the open relationship, from the obscure “province of utopian free-love communities” to its status as a mainstay of “Park Slope marriages and prestige television.” In January, New York magazine took on the same topic in a cover story, which explored the “increasingly mainstream world of ethical non-monogamy” and included “a practical guide for the curious couple.” The past few years have seen an explosion of thinking about the traditional bonds that hold us together, as well as the rules and structures governing them — not just in our romantic relationships, but also in our friendships and our households. The decision to have children, or to enter a long-term partnership, can seem both freer and weightier than ever. There are world-on-fire abstractions to contend with, as well as material realities, such as the rising costs of parenting and the dismal state of childcare.

But that doesn’t mean there’s a consensus on where to go next. For Issue Twelve, we asked a group of writers, scholars, and critics to consider the state of the family as both an idea and a practice. Below, they probe topics as intimate and disparate as multigenerational living, green card marriages, egg freezing, pro- and anti-natalism, and the supposedly radical concept of “chosen family.” Where are we stuck, and how much choice do we really have?

Paul McAdory | Capacity to Deform

Noelle Bodick | Back-Lasch

Dan Brooks | Prehistoric Arrangements

Elisa Gonzalez | Fraud Everywhere

Lydia Kiesling | Help Each Other Up the Hill

Nawal Arjini | A Crowded Dinner Table

S.C. Cornell | Great Personal Risk

Karim Kazemi | Distress Signals

Gaby Del Valle | An Unholy Alliance

P.E. Moskowitz | A Different, Messier World

Nancy Ko | How to Freeze Your Eggs