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The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portraitby Blake Bailey
Synopses & Reviews
The renowned biographer's unforgettable portrait of a family in ruins — his own.
Meet the Baileys: Burck, a prosperous lawyer once voted the American Legion's "Citizen of the Year" in his tiny hometown of Vinita, Oklahoma; his wife Marlies, who longs to recapture her festive life in Greenwich Village as a pretty young German immigrant, fresh off the boat; their addled son Scott, who repeatedly crashes the family Porsche; and Blake, the younger son, trying to find a way through the storm. "You're gonna be just like me," a drunken Scott taunts him. "You're gonna be worse."
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Blake Bailey has been hailed as "addictively readable" (New York Times) and praised for his ability to capture lives "compellingly and in harrowing detail" (Time). The Splendid Things We Planned is his darkly funny account of growing up in the shadow of an erratic and increasingly dangerous brother, an exhilarating and sometimes harrowing story that culminates in one unforgettable Christmas.
"[A] vivid, tender book [written with] humor and frankness...[and] a novelist's flair... A sleek, dramatic, authentically lurid story fueled by a candid fraternal rivalry." Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Very entertaining [and] immensely enjoyable — but also profoundly, persuasively sad. Like Mary Karr or David Sedaris, Bailey doesn't try to manufacture an answer to the questions posed by his family's failings." Elle
"Vibrantly evocative and car-crash engrossing." Entertainment Weekly
"One of the most surprising and riveting memoirs of the season." BookPage
"It seems fitting that biographer Bailey tells the story of his own life by chronicling his brother Scott's alcoholism and drug addiction....[His] story captures the contradictions and tensions that simmer just below the surface of the family...and Bailey tells it wonderfully, in a tragicomic tone that slowly reveals the true depths to which his older brother has sunk." Publishers Weekly
"A haunting portrait of more than one tortured soul and a heartfelt probing of the limits of brotherly love." Booklist (starred)
"This fine and haunting memoir touches the spot where family, responsibility, and helplessness converge. It's not a pretty place, but boy has Blake Bailey made it memorable. The Splendid Things We Planned is as forceful and revealing as any of the author's excellent biographies, and that's really saying something." David Sedaris
About the Author
Blake Bailey is the author of biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson, and he is at work on the authorized biography of Philip Roth. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize; and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Virginia, where he is the Mina Hohenberg Darden Professor of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University.
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