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The renowned biographer’s unforgettable portrait of a family in ruins—his own Meet the Baileys Burck a prosperous lawyer once voted the American Legion’s “Citizen of the Year” in his tiny hometown of Vinita Oklahoma; his wife Marlies who longs to recapture her festive life in Greenwich Village as a pretty young German immigrant fresh off the boat; their addled son Scott who repeatedly crashes the family Porsche; and Blake the younger son trying to find a way through the storm “You’re gonna be just like me” a drunken Scott taunts him You’re gonna be worseWinner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize Blake Bailey has been hailed as addictively readable New York Times and praised for his ability to capture lives compellingly and in harrowing detail Time The Splendid Things We Planned is his darkly funny account of growing up in the shadow of an erratic and increasingly dangerous brother an exhilarating and sometimes harrowing story that culminates in one unforgettable Christmas


10 thoughts on “The Splendid Things We Planned

  1. says:

    Blake Bailey is one hell of a writer In this memoir of a family that is first twisted and then broken he has given of himself in a way that is impossible to measure It is a powerhouse of a memoir a beacon that starts out distant and becomes gradually focused and immediate in a way only a master of the genre can do I feel fortunate for having been lucky enough to catch a glimpse free and in advance courtesy of his publisher and the Goodreadscom first reads program If you are drawn to haunting searingly evocative memoirs I recommend you go out and get a copy for yourself You won't forget this oneIn the beginning he is so droll that I mistakenly dropped this story onto my humor shelf It begins light as childhood tends to be in spite of everything and gradually not unlike the Clouds he uses to end his story it darkens at first almost imperceptibly then in a way that builds until the reader sits up sits back perhaps like me to say Oh HELL no or Did that just happen?It did And when you think about it how could it be otherwise?It is not just a good read but also a damning indictment of the so called justice system in the USA How much human potential has been wasted in funding and resorting to incarceration when mental health care is so badly needed for so many?I have a couple of uotations I had considered using but I am not supposed to uote directly until the final copy is published and these may not be there then And indeed why should I do that when I recommend that you read it yourself? It would ruin part of the discovery for youThe silence when he finishes is thunderous and deafening


  2. says:

    This isn't for everyone Blake Bailey's pointed self indulgent sometimes legitimately harrowing family memoir; it often reads like a 300 page Al Anon andor AA ualification with all of the inevitable repetition head shaking denial dark humor ridiculous melodrama Also you wouldn't want to spend much any time with any of these people in real life No not even our author the Pultizer Prize finalist literary biographer Bailey the younger himself who is brutally honest in putting a spotlight on his own failings and fuck ups Definitely not the deluded narcissistic mom Marlies nor the Oklahoma City power lawyer father Burck And most of all you would want to avoid at all costs the train wreck at the center of the tale alcoholic and junkie mentally disturbed violent and creepy elder brother Scott These are not charming people And the almost complete absence of any sort of reference to or awareness of the principles of Al Anon or AA is baffling considering the nearly forty year time frame of behavior that so obviously would benefit from either or both BUT I tore through The Splendid Things We Planned anyway a tribute to Bailey's sharp writing brisk storytelling and well sometimes it's just kind of entertaining to read about such messed up lives I guess I think the mostly Oklahoma setting helped too a part of the country that strikes me as exotic in that annoying New Yorker sort of way ie people actually live there?? So a great read which you might hate


  3. says:

    When David Sedaris recommends a book read the book I saw Sedaris live a few weeks ago and at the end of the reading he read an excerpt from this book followed by high praise I bought it immediately Blake Bailey is a skilled and articulate writer My vocabulary is better for having read this book The story is tragic honest and compelling I looked forward to bus rides and uiet moments so that I could get back to reading this You won't fall in love with the characters because you're not supposed to You might fall in love with the storytelling though There's a lot to comment on in this book family dysfunction mental illness etc I'm lending it to my friend because I need to talk about it I recommend it to anyone fascinated by family dynamics like me


  4. says:

    This book was recommended to the public by David Sedaris who I deeply love at the end of one of his shows He spent several minutes describing the many reasons to love Blake Bailey and this book and I ended up being very intrigued by it dark and wit humor mixed with the sense of tragedy that only real life stories those that are lived by your neighbor can convey My two favorite things to find in a book But this book failed to meet my expectations The first uarter of it is the story of two young kids whose life is not out of the ordinary Really not much to be interested inLater on when the alcohol starts flowing I think Baley fails at keeping the interest of the reader on He describes the events in a very detached way a seuence of incidents in his life and in those of his family members without really conveying a sense of drama without having the reader participate to the tragedy always keeping an emotional distance that sounds like a sort of nihilist form of self protection This would have been acceptable if Bailey made a good job at using black humor as the foundation of his work like Sedaris himself used to do But he also fails at being trenchant or fun except for very few linesAt the end what is left to the reader is a book whose purpose is not clear I'm sure this was much useful to Bailey to understand his life and that of his family than it is to us A way to clean up some skeletons in his closet and get some peace of mind For us other than a nice picture of an addict brother of an hippy mother and his gay friends there's nothing to enjoyPS I have read not many books in english but I have to admit this book made me realize english is a much reacher language than I expected Pretty much each page reuired me to use the vocabulary to learn a new term which I believe is a good thing


  5. says:

    Wow Not sure where to start Bailey is widely known as one of the world's best literary biographers but I wondered how well he could pull off his own memoir something which reuires a uite different skill set My worries were entirely without meritBailey's memoir is a fast paced gripping and suspenseful read both highly entertaining yet disturbing Beyond it's entertainment value however it is extremely thought provoking How is one's destiny shaped through personal choices? What are the responsibilities of close friends and family when one of their own begins to slip through the cracks? What are society's responsibilities?A prospective reader of The Splendid Things we Planned should be prepared to be entranced engaged and disturbed a must read


  6. says:

    Nope Nope I listened to an hour and I just don't want to stay with these people Life is short Thank god for Overdrive audiobooks that I can borrow and return without going broke


  7. says:

    I suspect Blake Bailey writes so well he could make anything interesting I had read little of and knew little about John Cheever before reading Bailey's wonderful biography of him That book was difficult to put down and he brings the same complexity of thought economy of language and admirable empathy towards the bitterness struggles and disappointments of life to this memoir This book is an enveloping look at one unhappy family in which people age grow and even change but nothing ever really improves If the sad story of the author's brother's life means anything I suspect it's that even seemingly irredeemable people got to that condition by degrees and that it may be impossible to tell when a person a relationship or a dream has past its last chances for a happy resolution This is a haunting book I expect will stay with me for a long time


  8. says:

    An incredibly well written book; however I found the writer's flippant tone toward his drug addicted mentally ill brother disturbing I also felt a fair portion of this book was too self indulgent for my tastes The only character I felt any empathy toward was the brother with the problemsI almost stopped reading when the author began certain conversations regarding his brother's very existance My personal beliefs about life cannot abide nor understand this way of thinking I know firsthand how addiction and mental illness can tear families apart but there are plenty of resources out there for those struggling and for family members who can no longer help with the struggle Seek and ye shall findWith that being said I believe Mr Bailey is an excellent writer and I'm open to reading his additional worksBethwwwmyelegantmusingsblogspotcom


  9. says:

    The author's brother's struggles were so eerily similar to those of my younger brother's that I couldn't help but grab onto this family's story Car wrecks hospitals mental illness drug abuse reckless sexuality It all ends badly affecting the whole family in a disastrous way We can choose to think of him as the little adorable boy with unleashed potential when we indulge ourselves When we are faced with the ugly reality of what his life became we resent him loathe him fear him pity him regret him Because we are human with human heart conditions we let a little hope live until even that is snatched away Always teetering on a precarious edge of madness leaving us to decide if we put our arms out to catch him or cover our eyes and run away A uote from a therapist in this book I will never forget is this When he was young we held out our arms to catch him when he would fall But as he grew into a man he became larger and stood from a higher place and we must choose to either get out of the way or be crushed by him My thought is that without much choice at all we do both We are forced to get out of the way and inevitably are crushed all the same We cannot save anyone from their own self destructive path We must pave our own path and find peace along the wayThanks Blake Bailey for being brave open and honest in your telling I so appreciate the rendering of your family portraitUnkraut vergeht nicht indeed


  10. says:

    This was a wonderfully written memoir by Mr Bailey that I read in three sittings Had I not had so many other things going on I would have finished it in one It was difficult for me to put down Mr Blake writes openly and honestly about his life and the life of his brother Scott from their early years and into adulthood in such a way that makes one realize that we get out of life what we put into it We are given insight into the personalities lives and dysfunctions of not only himself and Scott but Marlies their free spirited in denial mother Burck their lawyer dad almost always bailing one out of trouble and various other family membersIt is a sad and poignant story and it makes me appreciate so much all the little things in life that I have to be thankful forPlease note I received this copy as a winner of a Goodreads giveaway Had I not I probably would not have had the opportunity to read this and I am glad I dId