Dead End Gene Pool – Wendy Burden – 6/10

“Sepulchrally dismal, she was the three-dimensional equivalent of woe.”

My third memoir for the year, Wendy Burden’s Dead End Gene Pool is a dizzying ride through the lives of the ultra-rich descendants of Cornelius Vanderbilt, starting briefly with her grandparents’ antecedents, focussing for quite some time on Wendy’s childhood, which was heavily influenced by her paternal grandparents, and moving into her teenage and student years.

The first half of this book was highly comic – Wendy recounting the tales of her forebears, over-moneyed, over-sexed and often under-endowed with sanity. Similarly the stories of her early childhood, mostly revolving around her grandparents and their staff at the New York mansion. As Wendy grows older, though, the anecdotes get a bitter edge and the book becomes one of those ubiquitous misery memoirs of growing up with an alcoholic single parent. The grandparents become senile and sadly dependent, rather than amusing.

Memoirs are clearly a form of non-fiction that I am coming to enjoy, though – I very much enjoyed Sleeping Naked Is Green and The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance (when I wrote that review, I hoped I’d never have to write the title again. It seems to be following me).

Worth reading if you are interested in rich American people. Otherwise, there’s funnier material out there.

Additional info:
Personal copy from Bookmooch.
Publisher: Gotham Books (Penguin USA), hardcover, 279 pages.
Order this from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.
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5 thoughts on “Dead End Gene Pool – Wendy Burden – 6/10

  1. winstonsdad 6 September 2011 at 7:30 pm Reply

    not sure this is one for me but I love the cover its great ,all the best stu

  2. […] Loud talkers at the cinema should be: a Dead End Gene Pool […]

  3. […] impressive debut reminded me of a number of books I’ve read in the past year: Wendy Burden’s autobiography telling the life of the rich and famous, as well as Jennifer Egan’s (irritating) pastiche of […]

  4. […] memories of childhood: the best part so far. Very Dead End Gene Pool with overtones of Blackberry Winter, but more positive. Interesting with being slow. […]

  5. […] location and community and times. Iris’ memories of childhood were the best part for me; Very Dead End Gene Pool with overtones of Blackberry Winter, but more positive. She tells this section very slowly, which […]

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