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Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor Paperback – Bargain Price, July 1, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
First of all, Cheerful Money is indeed not a very good book, but it will find a place in the genre of Wasp chronicles. The structure is meandering. At points the book is truly boring. And the characters never really come to life. I could see these flaws when I spent about 30 minutes in the aisle of my local book store giving it a speed-read and deciding that it was not worth buying. And yet, a few weeks later I was one of those who requested it from the library. I think if you have little or a lot of WASP in you or have lived close to one or many of them you are drawn to reading about this world and its dissolution in the second half of the 20th century. Maybe I needed that assurance that the WASP world had lost its relevance so I would feel safe in abandoning any aspirations that might have lingered from my own Seven Sister/ Ivy League college days.
Admittedly I skipped over many paragraphs and at least twice considering abandoning the book. But I was glad I finished it, even though the whole bit towards the end about the author's psychoanalysis and failed relationships was lame. Mr Friend is a good writer, better than shows in this book. He has a knack for finding just the right metaphor.
You will enjoy the book if you are interested in a glimpse into this bygone world. For a tighter and more interesting narrative of the same subject, George Colt's Big House has more poignancy and a surer social (as well as artistic) compass.
Memoirs to me are an exercise in self indulgence unless the person writing has had a particularly interesting life. The author of this book hasn't.
He seems like a nice man, and is obviously a talented writer but perhaps he spends too much time with people of the same background (The New Yorker is hardly a mag for the masses) because he seems to think that nutty relatives, disappointments in childhood, the sad ends of promising people, and parents you love but don't always understand, belong exclusively to the life of a WASP. I'm very much not of his culture and yet I've experienced much of what he talks about. There's a snobbishness in thinking that his background elevates his memories to memoir status. Maybe that's the only thing about the book that is uniquely WASP. I get the sense of a man in mid-life trying to figure himself out through the lens of his childhood. Good for him. But it's not unique, and it's not interesting enough for a book.
The other thing that I thought lacking in the book was a proper "family tree". Friend includes one at the beginning of the book - and noted that it wasn't complete - and then proceeds to write about several close relatives, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who were not on the tree. I would have loved to know their "dates" and relationships with others in the family, but sadly, they weren't included. For instance, he writes about a cousin(?) named Norah Pierson, from his mother's side. She - and her sister - were non-conformists in the Pierson family. (Norah Pierson was a highly regarded jeweler out here in Santa Fe before her death). Even by closely searching the family tree, I couldn't find that branch.
The other reviews of this book on Amazon seem to run the gauntlet between five and one stars. Maybe it's not bad that Tad Friend's book evoked such a diverse range of opinion. It means readers are reading and thinking.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A sincere indepth look into
a true WASP's life & how we see the values & traditions change over time.
Change too quickly in my opinion.
Someone, please suggest to Steven Spielberg this book be made into a film! The minute I borrowed this book from the library, it was devoured within 24 hours; followed by a 2nd... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Jane Austen
If you would like to read an egomaniac's personal diary, droning on about his high IQ and sexual conquests while throwing every friend, lover and relative under the bus, then you... Read morePublished on April 16, 2013 by janh
Well-written, entertaining, witty, and sometimes sad book, good enough so that I read it twice and will probably read it again.Published on November 17, 2012 by Amazon Customer
Simply put, boring! I could not relate to any of the characters, including the narrator. Most of the people seemed annoying--particularly his mother with her affected spellings... Read morePublished on July 2, 2012 by Teachermom
My husband saw this book reviewed in the newspaper, and wanted to read it. It was as described, a great read, and he has it in his library to share with others.Published on February 7, 2012 by Donnae
The topic was promising, but the meandering nature of author's style made it difficult to keep straight the large multitude of family members. Read morePublished on June 8, 2011 by W. Drake
I don't know what I was expecting from this book when I picked it up, but one of my friends recommended it and said it was fabulous and that I would just love it. Read morePublished on September 8, 2010 by L. Muircroft