“Sarah C said: 2.9 stars
Fiction was not this family's problem. That is all I have to say.”
“"I can't help feeling that what Dad really likes about fiction is the power of it, the power of being, essentially, more beautiful, more charming, smarter, better than, the truth."
I've read a few of these types of memoirs, and this is by far one of my favorites. It's funny without trying, and the tragedies are understated, just like they are in real life.
A rather funny memoir of growing up to become a writer in a dysfunctional family, finding the humor in the irony of twisted dreams and disappointments in unfulfilled hopes. Dark, but an enjoyable read.”
“Excellent pseudo memoir about growing up in St. Louis from a family of writers and eccentrics in New York City.”ScottJ wrote this review Monday, May 7, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Maybe I was swayed by the blurbs on the cover--Hilarious; laugh out loud, etc.--and expected too much. But the book didn't elicit so much as a chuckle from me. In fact, I consider having read it a waste of time.
“Not a lot new here but it was an ok read. Half the story was amusing even if tweaked for effect but the other half was actually really sad. Reading about the effect of alcoholism and self-absorbtion on the family is damn depressing especially when you have personally experienced it. She really did capture the sadness of a child waiting for their parent to grow up and connect properly and then the loss when the parent dies without that taking place. I was glad the author sobered up and hope she values it enough to stick with it. The quality of her relationships depends on it.”Cindy R wrote this review Sunday, January 8, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Absolutely hilarious. her writing made me realize that not only should I write fully and honestly about my own crazy family but that I could do it in a way that would be funny, not just sad.”Lyndz wrote this review Sunday, November 20, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Not a particularly good book. Was it necessary for her to describe herself going to the bathroom(making #2) in a plastic bag in her apartment because the hall bathroom was occupied? Did she need to devote a whole chapter concerning her crabs and how she gave it to her sister when they shared a bed at her mother's apartment? I heard her interviewed about this book on WNYC's Leonard Lopate show. They often interview so many author's who have written bad books I knew that it was a crap shoot to read it. And it is a bad book. WNYC has a liberal leftist audience but I don't think that their audience would appreciate reading a book about someone going to the bathroom in a plastic bag or having crabs. To round out her character she says that she cheated on her good looking, rich, smart, funny, and nice boyfriend because she wanted to have better sex. She admits to being mean to her therapist because her therapist was upset about something in her own personal life and not focusing on the "author". She quits therapy and doesn't pay the therapist the money that she owes her for several, unpaid, previous sessions. She writes about a prank call that she made to a friend who was the secretary for the editor at Harper's Bazaar wherein she pretends to be a celebratory who was actually invited to a gala happening answering the rsvp but saying something embarrassing to her friend as this other person which the friend relayed to her boss and it could've ended her job when she found out that it was the "author" who made the practical joke. She writes things about herself in her memoir that no one would be proud to admit. The book is called Fiction Ruined My Family. but the title is only true up to a certain point and then the book is all about the "author". While she was being raised in Bronxville, N.Y., her father tried to write two books(or one was written on the east end of long island) unsuccessfully, and then gave up on having a job. So it may've ruined her childhood/adolescence but it didn't seem to scar her or any of her sisters for life. I was confused about their money situation because although they had no hot water, and they couldn't afford to fix a car that had fumes and that had a hole in the floor where you could see the street, and couldn't fix the back steps so that entrance was no longer viable, and couldn't even give her lunch money, they were still able to pay the mortgage of their house in their fancy Bronxville neighborhood as well as the property taxes because otherwise they wouldn't have retained that house. They were able to purchase the house because her mother inherited money from her mother plus her grandmother's house which her mother sold. I know at some point her mother became a receptionist but she doesn't go into detail about her mother's job and how it added financially to the family household. Her sister's go to college - three at the same time - do they get financial aid? Because two have to miss a semester due to strained finances. When she's away as an au pair, her sister takes her road test for her and passes. Another sister goes with her mother to SUNY Purchase and fills out an application for the "author" and perhaps even does the interview for her as her - because unbeknowst to her she gets in there, and they drop her off there with luggage one day and leave her there. In one part of the book, she is going to be evicted from her Brooklyn apartment - the sheriff is coming the next day - so some of her friends come over in the middle of the night to help her pack. She must be very charming or manipulative or both to get that kind of help from people who are willing to omit sleep. She's able to describe her parent's well. You definitely get a sense of what her father is about. If he wants to be obsessed with Fitzgerald for his entire life - let him. Why not. Her mother was an alcoholic and has passed this trait on to the "author". The "author" was eventually able to maintain sobriety. I found it interesting when she conveyed the responses of her family to her sobriety - they weren't that interested, evidently, unfortunately. I guess that they hadn't noticed that she had had a problem. Her friends(Carmen and Kristina) make cameo appearances in the book and then disappear. I liked the description of her sister Katharine who was always obsessively reading and when there was nothing to read around like at the dining room table she would read condiment labels. I really had a sense of who her sister Julia was too but all I knew about Eleanor was that she liked to watch tv as an adolescent and later when she lived in connecticut she liked to have a gin and tonic at night outside during the summer. At one point her sister Katharine hires her to be topless in a subway car and filmed while she is topless. She says that she did do it but doesn't relate what the experience was like or how the other riders reacted to her. Like her mother's receptionist job, it's mentioned and then skipped over. In her favor I just wanted to say her descriptions must've been good because I could really see: her mother's apartment with the couch with the pull out bed, her father's West Village apartment where they ate the birthday cake with the piece missing, her apartment with the bathroom in the hallway and the lobby of her mother's building where she and her sister's celebrated christmas with their father.She says in the very beginning of the book that she's not a stenographer in terms of what she remembers so I would assume that many of the conversations recorded here are not verbatim but improvised. In that she's similar to David Sedaris and Lauren Slater who mix fiction with their non fiction, but call it non fiction. When she mentions where Bill Gates lives, she calls it Redmond, California instead of Redmond, Washington, so that you wonder about if the book had been actually proofread. On the blurb, Ira Glass made comparisons between her writing and Dorothy Parker's and Oscar Wilde's. This is wildly generous of him - on the boarder of delusional. In my opinion this "author" is not of that caliber. ”J. Maxwell wrote this review Monday, November 14, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Jeanne Darst's "Fiction Ruined My Family" is not without its charm. It is a funny read at times, believe me.
What disappointed me was that a bit of the book was read for "This American Life" - where I first heard of it. In that piece, Ms. Darst retells the ultimate falling out with one of her sisters over the sister's strict adherence to a religion that seems very foreign to the family, a strictness that ultimately costs the family's relationship to the sister. It was deep and harsh and was exactly what this book needs. Too often, this book drowns in its own silliness.
I kept waiting for the recognizable moment I had heard. I waited and waited. (Finally, I let the cold, hard fact dawn on me: I'm not going to read it, am I? Am I? Instead, I'm going to read about a childish phone prank.) I do understand: Things change. Maybe her sister was contrite and came back to the fold. (Did she?) Maybe Darst feared she would freeze and destroy that relationship and feel like Truman Capote after "Unanswered Prayers". But we'll never know, will we? *Because she didn't write it!*
"Fiction Ruined My Family" really needs some brass, some balls, some bite. It's a shame that the pathos was diminished out of fear, but this is the risk when it comes to memoirs. Don't worry about being Capote after his shunning if you were not him before it, either.
I would post this on Amazon but that's a 5-star love-fest and I don't want to intrude.