The Splendid Things We Planned by Blake Bailey
What’s it about?
This is a memoir from biographer Blake Bailey. It is a story of family. How families shape us in good ways and in destructive ways. Mr. Bailey tells his story with incredible honesty. It is at times funny, at times off-putting, and almost always sad.
What did I think?
I have immense respect for anyone who can open himself up to the world in such a brutally honest way. This is not always a likable family, or a likable author. However it seems like a REAL family, with real problems. As the novel progresses Mr. Bailey’s brother Scott slowly comes unhinged. The affect it has on the whole family is heart wrenching. That the family does not always rise to the occasion is told without reservation. Mr. Bailey does not sugar coat anything. He does however tell his story with honesty and a sense of humor.
Should you read it?
I would recommend this. I must say that I did not really like many of the decisions the characters made, but most of the time I was rooting for them. Usually that would mean I would get fed up and not like the book- but in this case I really did like the book.
“Naturally I wanted my brother to be pleased that I’d put up a photo of us (poster-sized, no less) over my bed, but also I expected him to see the humor of that feature in the midst of such a piquant , overall tackiness. And really the dismal fact of the matter was simply this: I’d hung that photo because I thought it flattered me, because I was badly in need of flattery at the time.
After a silence, my brother said “Wow” and let his breath out in a long hiss. “I really don’t know what to say, Zweib.”
He was on the verge of tears over something that meant almost nothing to me. I did my best to change the subject.”
Were you as pleased as I was that Blake Bailey does not follow down Scott's path?
If you like this try-
All Over But the Shoutin’ by Ricky Bragg
Just Kids by Patti Smith
The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
This is Where I Leave you by Jonathon Tropper
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
favorites from 2020
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best of winter 2020
best of summer/fall 2019
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!