Part of it is is that We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is about a very real situation that some people put themselves in, which I am very passionately against. The book is well researched and, in its own quiet way, advocacy. Another major factor is Fowler's tremendous empathy for her characters, especially her fascinatingly bizarre narrator, Rosemary, who's socially incompetent and prone to annoying almost everyone she encounters. This is a character study of a jarring persona along the lines of the Lisa Kudrow series The Comeback, but Rosemary's struggles are rarely played for derisive laughs. Her individuality is celebrated, articulated and elucidated via a fractured telling of the story of her upbringing.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is truly a narrative that unfolds at the boundary between species. Best of all, Fowler refuses to romanticize or demonize her protagonists. Everybody does things wrong, human and ape alike. This novel isn't afraid to look directly at the forces that rip families apart, as well as what it takes to reach a state of forgiveness; Fowler simply defines "family" broadly enough to include other hominids.
“I decided on my 30th birthday that I would try to be a writer, and I am 64, so you do the math,” she said as she accepted the $15,000 award for her new novel, “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.”