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1 Local Warehouse MEMOIR- WELLNESS

Oh the Glory of It All

by

Oh the Glory of It All Cover

 

Staff Pick

Strangely compelling, Sean Wilsey's bare-all memoir about his terribly eccentric family is as disturbing as it is entertaining. You know those moments in life when you think "this can't be happening"? Wilsey's life seems composed entirely of those moments.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Oh the Glory of It All is, as the title suggests, a stuffed, hyper book, its wounds still raw and glittering. There is an anything-goes quality here: Wilsey is over-fond of movie analogies (in the early days, they are the Royal Tenenbaums; post-divorce, his mother is Norma Desmond), and his reliance on italics and exclamation points loses its oomph somewhere shy of the final page. But it is surely unsporting to make these complaints of a book so bursting with excitement, hurt, and a desire to be loved." Anna Godbersen, Esquire read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"In the beginning we were happy. And we were always excessive. So in the beginning we were happy to excess." With these opening lines Sean Wilsey takes us on an exhilarating tour of life in the strangest, wealthiest, and most grandiose of families.

Sean's blond-bombshell mother (one of the thinly veiled characters in Armistead Maupin's bestselling Tales of the City) is a 1980s society-page staple, regularly entertaining Black Panthers and movie stars in her marble and glass penthouse, "eight hundred feet in the air above San Francisco; an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill: full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills." His enigmatic father uses a jet helicopter to drop Sean off at the video arcade and lectures his son on proper hygiene in public restrooms, "You should wash your hands first, before you use the urinal. Not after. Your penis isn't dirty. But your hands are."

When Sean, "the kind of child who sings songs to sick flowers," turns nine years old, his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend. Sean's life blows apart. His mother first invites him to commit suicide with her, then has a "vision" of salvation that requires packing her Louis Vuitton luggage and traveling the globe, a retinue of multiracial children in tow. Her goal: peace on earth (and a Nobel Prize). Sean meets Indira Gandhi, Helmut Kohl, Menachem Begin, and the pope, hoping each one might come back to San Francisco and persuade his father to rejoin the family. Instead, Sean is pushed out of San Francisco and sent spiraling through five high schools, till he finally lands at an unorthodox reform school cum "therapeutic community," in Italy.

With its multiplicity of settings and kaleidoscopic mix of preoccupations — sex, Russia, jet helicopters, seismic upheaval, boarding schools, Middle Earth, skinheads, home improvement, suicide, skateboarding, Sovietology, public transportation, massage, Christian fundamentalism, dogs, Texas, global thermonuclear war, truth, evil, masturbation, hope, Bethlehem, CT, eventual salvation (abridged list) — Oh the Glory of It All is memoir as bildungsroman as explosion.

Review:

"Here's something I've realized: if my son shows any hint of writing talent, I'm going to be damn careful whenever he's in the room. We live in a dangerous era. Not too long ago, the average person could go around making mistakes, saying stupid things and being occasionally horrible, and who would know? Those days are over. Now, the Internet is cluttered with tell-all blogs by every schlub who's mastered the hunt and peck method. And bookstores are packed with memoirs by people who haven't even done anything to merit a measly entry in Who's Who (and I include myself in that category). Maybe this will inspire a new morality — the morality of dread. The world will be frightened into acting nice for fear of being humiliated in print. Yeah, probably not. In any case, these notions struck me while reading Oh the Glory of It All by Sean Wilsey — a strange, fascinating, complicated and self-involved memoir about the author's boyhood among San Francisco's social elite. The book contains perhaps the most evil parental figure since Joan Crawford. That woman is named Dede, the wicked stepmother of the tale. Dede allegedly stole Wilsey's father from his mom, banned afternoon TV, monitored Wilsey's phone calls, played endless mind games, told Wilsey to change his favorite color from red, and on and on. I'm not sure which Dede will find more disturbing — her foibles being laid bare or the fact that Wilsey admits to masturbating to her photo and smelling her underwear. Dede is joined by Wilsey's equally intriguing biological parents. There's his mother, a drama queen who once dated Frank Sinatra, held salons, hosted a talk show, asked Wilsey to commit suicide with her and became a globe-trotting peace activist. And then there's his father, a dairy-business millionaire, helicopter pilot and lothario. These three characters form the heart of the book. Wilsey also discusses his pot-steeped days at various boarding schools, including a bizarre cultlike institution in Italy that encouraged lots of weeping and hugging. But the parts about the family are the book's strongest. It's a startlingly honest tale. I can't imagine he left out a single humiliating detail, unless he had improper relations with his goldfish. Sometimes Wilsey comes off as a sympathetic figure, someone you'd like in the cubicle next to yours. But almost as often, he's completely malevolent — he made his roommate cry by sabotaging the poor guy's top bunk so that it collapsed onto the floor. And yet, when you begin to think of the book as just the tale of a poor-little-rich-boy, there's one thing that saves it: the writing, which is vivid, detailed, deep and filled with fresh metaphors. So if my son does end up lambasting me in his memoir, I hope he does it with as much style as Wilsey. Agent, David McCormick. (May 23)." A. J. Jacobs, Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A memoir that announces the debut of a remarkably gifted, daring and, yes, very funny, writer." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"The cliché 'truth is stranger than fiction' may well have been coined to describe Sean Wilsey's wild, wise, and whip-smart memoir." Elle

Review:

"[An] irreverent and remarkably candid memoir about growing up in wealthy eighties San Francisco...rollicking, ruthless...ultimately generous-hearted." Vogue

Review:

"Sean Wilsey's magnificent memoir spares no one but forgives almost everything; it's a kindly act of retribution that's sure to ring a bell with any adult survivor of parental narcissism. A bell, hell. Oh the Glory of It All becomes a veritable carillon of remembered pain, never once losing its wise and worldly sense of humor. I couldn't stop reading the damn thing." Armistead Maupin

Review:

"Exuberant, honest, and unforgettable. Wilsey shows that great privilege doesn't guarantee bliss, but also doesn't preclude it. I'm glad he survived this odd/epic youth and emerged from it such a sane, generous, and funny narrator. My only regret is that he's not older than he is, since there would be more to read." George Saunders

Review:

"Honest to a fault, richly veined with indelible images: a monumental piece of work." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

In what may become the most talked-about memoir of the year, Editor at Large at McSweeney's takes readers on an exhilarating tour of life in the strangest, wealthiest, and most grandiose of families.

Synopsis:

The story of the daughter of a glamorous chocolate heiress who must navigate a complex landscape of wealth, sex, and decadence through a privileged childhood in Chicago and an East Coast prep school, with only her narcissistic mother to guide her.

Synopsis:

As addictive, decadent and delicious as chocolate itself

Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.

Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.

As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest, Prep, and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.

Synopsis:

"In the beginning we were happy. And we were always excessive. So in the beginning we were happy to excess." With these opening lines Sean Wilsey takes us on an exhilarating tour of life in the strangest, wealthiest, and most grandiose of families.

Sean's blond-bombshell mother (one of the thinly veiled characters in Armistead Maupin's bestselling Tales of the City) is a 1980s society-page staple, regularly entertaining Black Panthers and movie stars in her marble and glass penthouse, "eight hundred feet in the air above San Francisco; an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill: full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills." His enigmatic father uses a jet helicopter to drop Sean off at the video arcade and lectures his son on proper hygiene in public restrooms, "You should wash your hands first, before you use the urinal. Not after. Your penis isn't dirty. But your hands are."

When Sean, "the kind of child who sings songs to sick flowers," turns nine years old, his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend. Sean's life blows apart. His mother first invites him to commit suicide with her, then has a "vision" of salvation that requires packing her Louis Vuitton luggage and traveling the globe, a retinue of multiracial children in tow. Her goal: peace on earth (and a Nobel Prize). Sean meets Indira Gandhi, Helmut Kohl, Menachem Begin, and the pope, hoping each one might come back to San Francisco and persuade his father to rejoin the family. Instead, Sean is pushed out of San Francisco and sent spiraling through five high schools, till he finally lands at an unorthodox reform school cum "therapeutic community," in Italy.

With its multiplicity of settings and kaleidoscopic mix of preoccupations-sex, Russia, jet helicopters, seismic upheaval, boarding schools, Middle Earth, skinheads, home improvement, suicide, skateboarding, Sovietology, public transportation, massage, Christian fundamentalism, dogs, Texas, global thermonuclear war, truth, evil, masturbation, hope, Bethlehem, CT, eventual salvation (abridged list)andmdash;Oh the Glory of It All is memoir as bildungsroman as explosion.

About the Author

Sean WilseyNew Yorker, the London Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, and McSweeney

Table of Contents

Prologue: Excess!

Part One: Useless Emotion

One: Mom
Two: Divorce
Three: Dad
Four: Dad and Dede
Five: Dede
Six: Every Other Week
Seven: Peace
Eight: Dad's House

Part Two: Useless Education
Nine: St. Mark's
Ten: Woodhall
Eleven: Skateboarding
Twelve: Sex
Thirteen: Cascade

Part Three: Repetition
Fourteen: Destruction
Fifteen: Corruption
Sixteen: Redemption

Part Four: Resolution
Seventeen: Butter
Eighteen: Scraped Over Too Much Bread

Product Details

ISBN:
9780143036913
Author:
Wilsey, Sean
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Author:
Norton, Ashley Prentice
Subject:
Rich & Famous
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Biography-Rich and Famous
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
May 2006
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8-page b/w photo insert; b/w illustratio
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 x 0.7 in 0.6 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Biography » General
Biography » Rich and Famous
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs

Oh the Glory of It All Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143036913 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Strangely compelling, Sean Wilsey's bare-all memoir about his terribly eccentric family is as disturbing as it is entertaining. You know those moments in life when you think "this can't be happening"? Wilsey's life seems composed entirely of those moments.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Here's something I've realized: if my son shows any hint of writing talent, I'm going to be damn careful whenever he's in the room. We live in a dangerous era. Not too long ago, the average person could go around making mistakes, saying stupid things and being occasionally horrible, and who would know? Those days are over. Now, the Internet is cluttered with tell-all blogs by every schlub who's mastered the hunt and peck method. And bookstores are packed with memoirs by people who haven't even done anything to merit a measly entry in Who's Who (and I include myself in that category). Maybe this will inspire a new morality — the morality of dread. The world will be frightened into acting nice for fear of being humiliated in print. Yeah, probably not. In any case, these notions struck me while reading Oh the Glory of It All by Sean Wilsey — a strange, fascinating, complicated and self-involved memoir about the author's boyhood among San Francisco's social elite. The book contains perhaps the most evil parental figure since Joan Crawford. That woman is named Dede, the wicked stepmother of the tale. Dede allegedly stole Wilsey's father from his mom, banned afternoon TV, monitored Wilsey's phone calls, played endless mind games, told Wilsey to change his favorite color from red, and on and on. I'm not sure which Dede will find more disturbing — her foibles being laid bare or the fact that Wilsey admits to masturbating to her photo and smelling her underwear. Dede is joined by Wilsey's equally intriguing biological parents. There's his mother, a drama queen who once dated Frank Sinatra, held salons, hosted a talk show, asked Wilsey to commit suicide with her and became a globe-trotting peace activist. And then there's his father, a dairy-business millionaire, helicopter pilot and lothario. These three characters form the heart of the book. Wilsey also discusses his pot-steeped days at various boarding schools, including a bizarre cultlike institution in Italy that encouraged lots of weeping and hugging. But the parts about the family are the book's strongest. It's a startlingly honest tale. I can't imagine he left out a single humiliating detail, unless he had improper relations with his goldfish. Sometimes Wilsey comes off as a sympathetic figure, someone you'd like in the cubicle next to yours. But almost as often, he's completely malevolent — he made his roommate cry by sabotaging the poor guy's top bunk so that it collapsed onto the floor. And yet, when you begin to think of the book as just the tale of a poor-little-rich-boy, there's one thing that saves it: the writing, which is vivid, detailed, deep and filled with fresh metaphors. So if my son does end up lambasting me in his memoir, I hope he does it with as much style as Wilsey. Agent, David McCormick. (May 23)." A. J. Jacobs, Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Oh the Glory of It All is, as the title suggests, a stuffed, hyper book, its wounds still raw and glittering. There is an anything-goes quality here: Wilsey is over-fond of movie analogies (in the early days, they are the Royal Tenenbaums; post-divorce, his mother is Norma Desmond), and his reliance on italics and exclamation points loses its oomph somewhere shy of the final page. But it is surely unsporting to make these complaints of a book so bursting with excitement, hurt, and a desire to be loved." Anna Godbersen, Esquire read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "A memoir that announces the debut of a remarkably gifted, daring and, yes, very funny, writer."
"Review" by , "The cliché 'truth is stranger than fiction' may well have been coined to describe Sean Wilsey's wild, wise, and whip-smart memoir."
"Review" by , "[An] irreverent and remarkably candid memoir about growing up in wealthy eighties San Francisco...rollicking, ruthless...ultimately generous-hearted."
"Review" by , "Sean Wilsey's magnificent memoir spares no one but forgives almost everything; it's a kindly act of retribution that's sure to ring a bell with any adult survivor of parental narcissism. A bell, hell. Oh the Glory of It All becomes a veritable carillon of remembered pain, never once losing its wise and worldly sense of humor. I couldn't stop reading the damn thing."
"Review" by , "Exuberant, honest, and unforgettable. Wilsey shows that great privilege doesn't guarantee bliss, but also doesn't preclude it. I'm glad he survived this odd/epic youth and emerged from it such a sane, generous, and funny narrator. My only regret is that he's not older than he is, since there would be more to read."
"Review" by , "Honest to a fault, richly veined with indelible images: a monumental piece of work."
"Synopsis" by , In what may become the most talked-about memoir of the year, Editor at Large at McSweeney's takes readers on an exhilarating tour of life in the strangest, wealthiest, and most grandiose of families.
"Synopsis" by , The story of the daughter of a glamorous chocolate heiress who must navigate a complex landscape of wealth, sex, and decadence through a privileged childhood in Chicago and an East Coast prep school, with only her narcissistic mother to guide her.
"Synopsis" by ,
As addictive, decadent and delicious as chocolate itself

Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.

Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.

As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest, Prep, and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.

"Synopsis" by ,

"In the beginning we were happy. And we were always excessive. So in the beginning we were happy to excess." With these opening lines Sean Wilsey takes us on an exhilarating tour of life in the strangest, wealthiest, and most grandiose of families.

Sean's blond-bombshell mother (one of the thinly veiled characters in Armistead Maupin's bestselling Tales of the City) is a 1980s society-page staple, regularly entertaining Black Panthers and movie stars in her marble and glass penthouse, "eight hundred feet in the air above San Francisco; an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill: full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills." His enigmatic father uses a jet helicopter to drop Sean off at the video arcade and lectures his son on proper hygiene in public restrooms, "You should wash your hands first, before you use the urinal. Not after. Your penis isn't dirty. But your hands are."

When Sean, "the kind of child who sings songs to sick flowers," turns nine years old, his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend. Sean's life blows apart. His mother first invites him to commit suicide with her, then has a "vision" of salvation that requires packing her Louis Vuitton luggage and traveling the globe, a retinue of multiracial children in tow. Her goal: peace on earth (and a Nobel Prize). Sean meets Indira Gandhi, Helmut Kohl, Menachem Begin, and the pope, hoping each one might come back to San Francisco and persuade his father to rejoin the family. Instead, Sean is pushed out of San Francisco and sent spiraling through five high schools, till he finally lands at an unorthodox reform school cum "therapeutic community," in Italy.

With its multiplicity of settings and kaleidoscopic mix of preoccupations-sex, Russia, jet helicopters, seismic upheaval, boarding schools, Middle Earth, skinheads, home improvement, suicide, skateboarding, Sovietology, public transportation, massage, Christian fundamentalism, dogs, Texas, global thermonuclear war, truth, evil, masturbation, hope, Bethlehem, CT, eventual salvation (abridged list)andmdash;Oh the Glory of It All is memoir as bildungsroman as explosion.

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