Picks and Pans Review: Rain or Shine
by Cyra McFadden
In this biography the author says her father, Cy Taillon, was the world's most famous rodeo announcer. "I don't know what God looks like," a woman fan of Taillon's told McFadden, "but I know what He sounds like." Her mother was an ex-show girl who, when she wasn't having nervous breakdowns, taught dancing. They were married after a 24-hour courtship, says McFadden. "They must have looked at each other and instantly recognized their similarities: two peacocks in a world of mud hens." After 12 years of marriage, which they spent drinking and fighting on the rodeo circuit, the couple split. McFadden's mother married her ex-husband's best friend. Years later when Taillon was in the Army Air Corps in World War II, he married again, fathered two sons, quit drinking and settled down. The author's childhood was terrible. She adored and hated her self-centered parents. Her stepfather was more than kind to her, but she detested his careful ways. Her stepmother didn't like her, and, indeed, the author makes it clear she was a difficult child, out to get even with her parents. In this searing, occasionally funny and always engrossing family memoir, McFadden is still out for revenge. But she has also reconciled herself to much of the past. This book does a flawless job of portraying people from farms who live on the fringe of show business, hooked on its glamour, only occasionally making a living. The family details, the fascinating photographs, the terrible years-long rifts are intensely described. McFadden, the author of a comic satire on Marin County called The Serial, certainly has not spared herself—or anyone else she has loved. (Knopf, $16.95)
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