CJ Hauser

Family of Origin

a novel

Published by DOUBLEDAY

In the irreverent and exuberant spirit of Kevin Wilson, Alissa Nutting, and Karen Russell, CJ Hauser speaks to a generation’s uncertainties: Is it possible to live in our broken world with both scientific pragmatism and hope? What does one generation owe another? How do we know which parts of the past, and ourselves, to jettison and which to keep? Delightfully funny, fiercely original, high-spirited and warm, Family of Origin grapples with questions of nature and nurture, evolution and mating, intimacy and betrayal, progress and forgiveness.

Hauser returns with a strange and heartbreaking novel about what it means to be a family… Hauser's ability to render the complexities of family relationships with radical honesty is a feat. A lesser writer would not be able to deliver the disturbing and weird with the grace that Hauser does.


The From-Aways

 a novel


Two young women trying to find their places in the world settle in a small coastal town in Maine and discover purpose, friendship and acceptance...as events begin to spin out of control, debut novelist Hauser creates a palpable bond linking characters, readers, a community and a relevant political issue. Hauser's style is expressive, clever and compelling, and she offers readers a thoughtful and engaging debut.   
-  Kirkus Reviews

Hauser alternates first-person chapters between her two primary characters to build beautifully rounded characterizations of them and others and form a loving story centered on a place and its effect on its residents. This impressively crafted first novel is likely to leave readers wanting both a Maine lobster dinner and more from this author.  
-  Booklist

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The Crane Wife

Ten days after I called off my engagement I was supposed to go on a scientific expedition to study the whooping crane on the gulf coast of Texas. Surely, I will cancel this trip, I thought, as I shopped for nylon hiking pants that zipped off at the knee. Surely, a person who calls off a wedding is meant to be sitting sadly at home, reflecting on the enormity of what has transpired and not doing whatever it is I am about to be doing that requires a pair of plastic clogs with drainage holes.

The Paris Review - 2019


Against Lotus-Eaters

There is, so often, a phantom book lurking behind a published novel. I know mine are haunted in this way. And so sometimes, when people ask how long it took to write Family of Origin, I wonder: Should I count the two years I spent writing the phantom novel that came before? I think the answer might be yes.

Powell’s Book Blog


My Niece Is Probably the Reincarnation of Shirley Jackson

My niece is eight months old. She was born into Shirley Jackson’s old house in Westport, Connecticut, which my sister and brother-in-law bought when they wanted to start a family. Do you know who Shirley Jackson is? I’m sure you do, but if not, what I need you to know is that Shirley Jackson was an author who most famously wrote about two things: 1) children 2) haunted houses. 

Lit Hub - 2019



I commute to war five days a week in a station wagon the color of an egg. I count on ten minutes of traffic by the Dunkin’ Donuts intersection. When I slam the car door, I count on the tree above my parking spot depositing a green scrim of pollen on my flight suit. What I can’t count on is it being the same war. Most days I operate over Afghanistan, but I fly in Iraq too. I say flew, I say I fly, and unless you’re out there winging around in an F-16 I don’t want to hear a fucking thing about it. I hear a lot about it. Hell, I used to dish a lot about it.



A Bad Year for Apples

We had chickens, mostly. I didn’t think I could milk a cow. Brett said “Sure you can,” so there was Sadie who let me duck under her. After, when I held the bucket in my arms, it was warm. Brett mended fences. He was good with soil, figuring out the chemistry of it and planting things in the right places. He took care of the goats because I didn’t like the way they looked at me all together.




It was summertime in Flatbush. I had just graduated high school, the fruit stands smelled rotted, and the coolest place to be was the old Dutch cemetery because of the trees and stones. Everyone was shuffling slow down the sidewalks, dirty feet in sandals, swearing they’d kill themselves if the ice-cream truck didn’t stop jingling.




This is not Lizzie’s story, though she tells it sometimes. Because she earned it. Because she slept with Davis all that summer and soaked the glass out of his hand. It was the summer the Lynches split, and all of Davis’s t-shirts had holes in them and they, the two of them together, burned down half the Christmas tree farm.



Back then you knew which girls had husbands in the war because when you kissed them they tasted of envelope glue.

Marjorie said, I can't. It aint right.

How could she resist a flat-footed fool like myself?

She couldn't behind the gazebo. Couldn't by the dry bed crick. Couldn't in The Marquis, twice.

Then he came home to a ticker-tape parade. The war was over.

Marjorie doesn't answer any of my letters. My war stories taste like glue.

Letters In Wartime