#40 — All of the Splendid Things We Planned

All of the Splendid Things We Planned by Blake Bailey
  • Rating: 1/5
  • An autobiography of a biographer. While not badly written, it was detached, clinical, whiny, not funny and not that interesting — there are worse families out there
  • Being balanced in your biographies are a good thing, but you can’t do that when talking about yourself; it will inevitably end in failure
  • The biggest failure in the book is that it was filled with big, fancy words but devoid of any real emotion or self-awareness
    • He didn’t really try to explore root causes other than describing one’s childhood
    • Didn’t try to reflect on one’s own past behaviors, how they affected others, or take responsibility for all of the things that enabled him and others to behave badly for so long
    • Focus and blame was squarely placed on the brother, who was worse off and went down in spectacular fashion. The brother was a manifestation of the family’s dysfunction, not necessarily the sole contributor of it
    • Lots of rationalization and denial. Was overly careful not to blame the absent/neglectful parents too much (I assume they are still living)
  • The author confesses he also delayed his entry into adulthood — what would make for a more interesting story is how he managed to put on his big boy pants and transform into a somewhat known and successful person in his chosen field, who is worthy of the excessive praise lavished on this excruciatingly annoying memoir