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Fiction Ruined My Family Paperback – Nov 6 2012
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"Beautifully paced . . . heartbreaking and hilarious."—USA Today
"Fiction Ruined My Family reads like a script for performance art, a rapid stand-up routine, careless and wisecracky, signaling moments for the audience to respond to a punch line by clapping. The tinkle of glasses subsides; the performer makes a grimace, takes a bow, goes on. Yet genuine pain is explored - for the dangerous ambitions of fame and achievement and the really dangerous distractions of carelessness with loved ones."—The San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] winningly snarky memoir."—The New York Times
"The girl's got flair."—Entertainment Weekly
"Jeanne Darst's memoir about growing up in a hard-drinking family with big literary dreams is hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring."—Marie Claire
"In her memoir Fiction Ruined My Family, Jeanne Darst plunges into the story of her delusional family with wicked wit and fearlessness."—Redbook
"High fives to Jeanne Darst for Fiction Ruined My Family, her tale of surviving an alkie blue-blood mom, a hard-drinking failed-writer dad, and her own inebriated performer/playwright/crummy-job dysfunction to write this seriously comic tell-all about her entanglements, with family, friend, and-of course-her bodacious self."—Elle
“Fiction Ruined My Family had me laughing out loud, which I almost never do, with one jaw-dropping scene after another. On nearly every page there’s some sentence that's so perfect, in an old-school Oscar Wilde/Dorothy Parker sort of way, that it made everything I've ever written or said seem like dull, drunken mumbling.” – Ira Glass, host of This American Life
“Jeanne Darst’s memoir unfolds like a Eugene O’Neill play, with all the boozing and the weeping and the exclamatory self-pity. Only it’s also very funny, and it has a happy ending (more or less). Snap this book up.”—Tad Friend, author of Cheerful Money
“As Tolstoy might have said if he'd survived the 1970s, happy families are all alike but every narcissistic parent is narcissistic in his or her own way. Jeanne Darst tells a story not only of family neuroses, artistic delusions and thwarted dreams but also of the nuances of social class, the tension between domesticity and bohemenianism, and the tragicomedy that comes from faking it but never quite making it. All my favorite themes! I also laughed out loud more times than I can count.”—Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House
“Jeanne Darst is funnier than a blotto WASP in a Lily Pulitzer wheelchair.”—Wendy Burden, author of Dead End Gene Pool
“In the tradition of the Mitford sisters' chronicles (but minus Hitler), Fiction Ruined My Family is both a very funny tragedy and a very sad comedy.”—Patricia Marx, author of Him Her Him Again and the End of Him
“Dazzlingly funny, gut wrenching and infested with writing that will absolutely floor you. Fiction Ruined My Family has ruined me—how will I ever be able to use those adjectives again and mean them as much as I do now?”—Sloane Crosley, author of How Did You Get This Number
“Jeanne Darst manages to evoke humor and despair in a single sentence. I found myself rooting so hard for her. Fiction Ruined My Family is a great testament to surviving and overcoming wacky parents. A wonderful book.” – Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof
About the Author
Jeanne Darst is a writer/performer who has written for The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, and performed her solo plays in bars, barns, and living rooms across the country. An excerpt from this book on aired on This American Life. She lives in Los Angeles.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I saw Ms Darst read from her book at BookCourt in Brooklyn, and got a sense of her "scrappy" personality and deadpan humor. I picked up the book right after that and finished it in two evenings.
I think this book is one of the best in the genre of humorous memoir, right up there with works by Sara Barron, Wendy Burden, and Haven Kimmel. Jeanne has some great characters to work with, particularly her father. One of the key insights is "Like all tragic heroes he has a fundamental lack of self-awareness." She also makes herself the target of much of the humor. She realizes that she inherited some of the traits of both her mother and her father, and is constantly trying to prove that "I am not an id-i-ot."
Let me give one example of a comical moment. Her sister Julia, her mother, and Jeanne are speaking.
Mother: "Oh for God's sake, Jeanne, you have lice?"
"Yes, but they're on our pubes," Julia said.
Mother: "This is what you get for going to a state school. Jeanne, why you couldn't get into somewhere decent I'll never understand. You're so bright."
Besides the humor, I like the writer's unsentimental exploration of her emotions about the decline of her parents, and her own struggle as a starving artist.
I highly recommend this book to other readers. Please buy it so she can keep writing and making people laugh.
Doesn't that sound gloomy? FICTION RUINED MY FAMILY is anything but. It is hysterically funny: "Your mother's not an alcoholic, she just thinks every night is New Year's Eve." And, "I have bad judgment, or no judgment. Like Lenny in OF MICE AND MEN, I pet things too hard and then hide the evidence." It is ribald--the book includes a lengthy segment on how Jeanne gets and shares a dose of crabs (it is quoted in other reviews, so I shall not reiterate).
And oh, it is poignant: "I can't help remembering this saying of hers, because not only did her life end not well, it didn't end badly. It ended horrifically, one of the worse endings I've ever seen to a life. And when this happens, when this happens to your mother, what do you remember? Which Mom? Which morning? Which nights? What do you leave and what do you take with you? Clearly I'm not here looking for day-count coins from AA. But is there something here that will work for me, that will help me find I don't know what? She no longer has to be or not be anything to anyone. She didn't get sober. She wasn't the mom I wanted her to be. I wanted her to fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. But she didn't, obviously. And it was over. So then why was I scanning the joint like it was my own brain: deducing the love, the anger, the confusion, looking for her, in death, to be something I could live with? We were here to clean out her apartment, to get rid of things. But it seemed I was actually here to acquire a mother."
This is a great memoir, reminding me in some ways of LIT by Mary Karr, yet radiating a completely unique voice. I look forward to reading more of Darst, or better yet, seeing her play, SALLY ON THE MOUNT: "She becomes a sex-worker in the meatpacking district but decides, amid all the art world craziness of the 80's in New York, that what she does is actually art...She adapts Orwell's ANIMAL FARM into a sexual act (can't use the term she uses because of Amazon restrictions) and collaborates with a man who calls himself Ken Burn on a seventeen-part PBS series called THE AMERICAN ANUS." Etc.
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