Most helpful positive review
66 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2009
This is a wonderful book. In an effort to understand his own rather constrained, Waspy nature, Tad Friend researches the lives of his various relatives--for the most part cheerful enough affairs on the surface (most of the time), but seething with a kind of quiet heartbreak. Friend himself would seem the picture of contentment: a successful NEW YORKER writer, a droll attractive fellow with loads of droll attractive friends, he yet feels a numbness of the soul that he can't quite understand. Coming to terms with this--the Wasp emotional inheritance--is the burden of this book. Nicely structured with a lot of contrapuntal set pieces about this or that relative, this or that girlfriend, the story draws one irresistibly along--and one might as well say it: I laughed and I cried, pretty much in equal parts. What I liked best about the book was the (how to put it?) companionability of the author--like a charming (but hitherto somewhat aloof) old pal who has a few too many one night and decides to bare his soul, half-seriously, though his audience comes to take him very seriously indeed.