Picks and Pans Review: Oh the Glory of It All

updated 06/06/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Sean Wilsey

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In this sprawling memoir, Wilsey documents his life as the off-spring of rich, supremely screwed-up San Francisco parents, a '70s-era golden couple who split when the author was just 9 years old. Both were movers in San Francisco—his father, Alfred, was a multimillionaire entrepreneur and his mother, Pat, a society columnist. Caught between an oblivious and inscrutable father and a loving yet mercurial mother, Wilsey (now an editor-at-large at McSweeney's quarterly) developed the ability to see them not just as his parents but as real people with real flaws. He offers a sensitive evocation of his manic-depressive mother—who tried to talk him into committing suicide with her—and a scathing portrait of his stepmother Dede, an heiress and socialite who seemed to loathe him. Touching, if occasionally maudlin and often repetitive, Wilsey's is still a book worth reading.

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