Tag Archives: Memoir

Review: Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden

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For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius “The Commodore” Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy’s birth, the Burden’s had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline-and were rarely seen not holding a drink. In Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy invites readers to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother. — goodreads

Ok, now here’s a book that is hard to believe is not fiction. Anyone who has ever had weird, alcoholic, self-absorbed parents may feel like they are reading their own diary. If, that is, they were brave enough to keep one. Wendy Burden gets braver still by letting the world see what is essentially her family diary. She is a master of conjuring up the deepest of emotion with the driest of humor. Exactly like her parents.

All the while, the great great (ect.) granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the great great (ect.) writer of this book, manages to keep the reader in a constant state of, um, confused envy. One the one had, look what she has! But on the other hand, look what she has. Psychotic parents, creepy adults and zero work ethic abound in this memoir. And it’s all deliciously intoxicating to read.

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Review: Ninety Days by Bill Clegg

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Review for Ninety Days.

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The goal is ninety. Just ninety clean and sober days to loosen the hold of the addiction that caused Bill Clegg to lose everything. With seventy-three days in rehab behind him he returns to New York and attends two or three meetings each day. It is in these refuges that he befriends essential allies including the seemingly unshakably sober Asa and Polly, who struggles daily with her own cycle of recovery and relapse. 

At first, the support is not enough: Clegg relapses for the first time with only three days left. Written with uncompromised immediacy, NINETY DAYS begins where Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man ends — and tells the wrenching story Clegg’s battle to reclaim his life. As any recovering addict knows, hitting rock bottom is just the beginning. — From Net Galley

 

Ninety Days is the sequel to Clegg’s first memoir, Portrait of a Young Man as an Addict. Both books will bring you to your knees for Clegg. Because what the author has to say about life as an addict isn’t just painful for him, its painful for his readers too. And that’s great writing.

The story takes place in New York City, in both the grimiest neighborhoods and the most posh. Clegg knows the city like the back of his hand, which gives his readers a virtual telescope into the big apple. Some of the characters from Clegg’s first book are brought back for this one. Although not imperative to have read Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man, the continuing storyline – particularly the one with Clegg’s long-time partner – will probably mean more if you have.

Ninety Days often reads like Clegg is speaking directly to his fellow addicts, and it’s hard to imagine that his words won’t help. The final scenes of the book are shocking and depressing and yet hopeful at the same time. And that’s because the author’s experiences are huge, but his compassion is yet bigger.