Picks and Pans Review: Whose Little Boy Are You?

updated 07/25/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/25/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Heywood Hale Broun

"I was both a small boy and a miniature adult," writes Broun, the wry CBS-TV personality and author, in this tender autobiography. His father was a popular newspaperman and highly successful columnist, his mother a drama critic and a feminist. When they registered at hotels, his father wrote, "Heywood Broun and Ruth Hale, his wife." His parents insisted their son call them "Ruth" and "Heywood." "Woodie," as the boy was called, grew up knowing everyone in New York who was smart or famous. His parents sheltered many members of the Algonquin set, and as a child Woodie was expected to cheer up people like composer and famous music critic Deems Taylor, who often came to dinner in a depressed state. When, at 10, Woodie said that he was going with some friends to a nearby Universalist Sunday school, his agnostic parents "treated the news like people seeing the first birdshot pustules of smallpox on smooth skin." They called in a psychiatrist to find out if this "terrifying symptom might be no more than a sign of some juvenile emotional rash." After 17 years of marriage, his parents decided to separate. Then they went on a cruise together. Included in the party were Woodie and a woman with whom the elder Broun was having an affair. Woodie's description of his father's death is vivid and moving (10,000 people turned out for the funeral), but the best part of this subtle book is the way the author comes to terms with his difficult, lively, creative and remarkably eccentric parents, (St. Martin's, $14.95)

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