Starred Review. The scion of an illustrious—and fabulously eccentric—English literary dynasty referees four generations of father-son antagonisms in this scintillating family memoir. Waugh (God) focuses on the fraught relationship between his great-grandfather, prominent critic and publisher Arthur Waugh, and Arthur's son, the famous novelist Evelyn. Arthur was a hopeless Victorian who doted on his elder son Alec and warmly sentimentalized their family life and boarding school traditions, Evelyn was the disaffected black sheep who wallowed in drink, bisexual dissipation and modern cynicism. In contrast to Arthur's paternal overinvolvement, Evelyn tried hard to avoid his own children's company or, when contact was inescapable, to heap exquisitely refined derision on their heads. But while he found his seven-year-old son, Auberon, the author's father, to be "clumsy and disheveled, sly, without intellectual, aesthetic or spiritual interest," he managed to impart a legacy that emerged in Auberon's career as a notoriously acerbic columnist. Waugh often lets the diaries and letters of his compulsively self-documenting subjects carry the story, sprinkling in smarmy family anecdotes and his own color commentary. If this tome were merely an excuse to reprint some of Evelyn's hilarious jottings, it would be well worth the price, but it's also an absorbing study of how writers process their most painfully formative experiences. (May 29)
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*Starred Review* The hearts of four generations of Waughs have pumped more ink than blood. This, after all, is a family that since 1888 has published nearly 200 titles in a half-dozen genres. Naturally, that means that when Alexander Waugh looks back at his family history, he surveys literary monuments, including his great-grandfather's "Gordon in Africa," his grandfather's Brideshead Revisited, his father's oxglove Saga, and his own Time. But Alexander concerns himself here chiefly not with the family's books but rather with the family's tangled emotional relationships. Again and again, his candid narrative exposes fathers who alienate their sons, who in turn attack their fathers. Readers thus learn how Arthur cruelly slighted his younger son, Evelyn, who subsequently vented his rage against his unjust father through condemnatory images of fictional fathers recognizably similar to his own. But as a real-life father, Evelyn failed in his own way, yielding to pathological depression and condemning his son Bron with unforgiving rigor for his imaginative lies. Yet in Bron, Alexander finally finds a Waugh father willing to break the pattern by giving his children a home life of love, loyalty, and happiness. Alternately scalding and tender, this group portrait deserves a place next to other Waugh masterpieces. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The very famous Waugh literary dynasty gets the royal treatment here at the hands of one of its later members. Read morePublished 11 months ago by othoniaboys
I found a little difficult to read. I eventually gave up.Published 13 months ago by Daniel Sullivan
I do not remember when or where I first heard the name Evelyn Waugh. I suspect it was through repeated references to his writings in other books that I came to take up Brideshead... Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Wyman Richardson
Unfortunately, Alexander Waugh--author of this family autobiography--doesn't live up to the examples of his father (Auberon)and grandfather (Evelyn). Read morePublished on September 3, 2009 by sandra
A beautifully written detailed account of the professional, social and family lives of four generations of writers. From Dr. Read morePublished on May 17, 2009 by Alina Tortosa
Alexander Waugh writes with intimacy and honesty about his lineage. Stocked with access to intimate family papers and diaries of his father (Auberon Waugh), grandfather (Evelyn... Read morePublished on July 4, 2008 by Jedrury
After hearing Alexander Waugh discuss this book on a radio program recently, I felt compelled to buy it. Read morePublished on May 24, 2008 by E. Hosch
This collective biography spans about six generations responsible for, one from the fifth generation tells us, about 180 books-- quite an average. Read morePublished on March 12, 2008 by John L Murphy
I have not finished this book yet, but so far it is an enjoyable and interesting read.
I am a Waugh fan, and have most of their books, which are very enjoyable. Read more