Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor
Date: March 2010
Duration: 10 hours 44 minutes
Tad Friend's family is nothing if not illustrious: his father was president of Swarthmore College, and at Smith his mother came in second in a poetry contest judged by W. H. Auden -- to Sylvia Plath. For centuries, Wasps like his ancestors dominated American life. But then, in the '60s, their fortunes began to fall. As a young man, Friend noticed that his family tree, for all its glories, was full of alcoholics, depressives, and reckless eccentrics. Yet his identity had already been shaped by the family's age-old traditions and expectations. Part memoir, part family history, and part cultural study of the long swoon of the American Wasp, Cheerful Money is a captivating examination of a cultural crack-up and a man trying to escape its wreckage.
"In a milieu that values decorum and reticence, revealing private family matters requires gumption—or, in WASP-speak, 'sand.' Tad Friend shows the necessary grit in this suave, sharp-witted expose of his native culture…[writing] with minimal whining and considerable style and soul."—NPR, The Year's Best Memoirs