Title: Oh the Glory of it All
Author: Sean Wilsey
First published May 19, 2005
512 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780143036913 (ISBN10: 0143036912)
In his memoir Oh the Glory of it All, Sean Wilsey takes readers on a thrilling journey of self-discovery. Reminiscent of his favorite childhood stories like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, Wilsey’s life was filled with its own set of harrowing characters.
His father, a wealthy and distant man, made demands that were often perplexing, like insisting on squeegeeing the shower stall after every use. Wilsey’s youth was spent either in subservience to, or rebellion against his imposing father.
But it wasn’t just his father who shaped his life. His mother, a San Francisco society butterfly turned peace promoter, was always extreme – either trying to convince young Sean to commit suicide with her, or arranging impromptu meetings with the Pope and Mikhail Gorbachev.
And then there was Dede, his demon of a stepmother, who would have made the Brothers Grimm shiver. Oh the Glory of it All is a captivating memoir that will inspire readers to embark on their own quest of self-discovery.
About the Author
Sean Wilsey is a gifted writer who has authored a memoir titled “Oh the Glory of It All” and a collection of essays titled “More Curious.” He is currently working on a translation of Luigi Pirandello’s “Uno, Nessuno e Centomila” for Archipelago Books. Additionally, he is involved in a documentary project called “IX XI” which explores the impact of the 9/11 tragedy.
The film features Roz Chast, Griffin Dunne, and a host of other notable personalities.
Sean Wilsey’s Oh the Glory of it All is a stunning memoir that explores the complicated dynamics of family, wealth, and privilege. Wilsey, a writer and editor of McSweeney’s Quarterly, delves into his childhood growing up amidst San Francisco’s cultural elite and his strained relationship with his billionaire stepfather.
The memoir is written in a style that is both engaging and introspective, with Wilsey’s unique voice and wit illuminating each page. The book alternates between present-day conversations with Wilsey’s estranged mother and flashbacks to his youth, vividly depicting the lavish parties and homes of his upbringing while also exploring the deep emotional wounds caused by his parent’s divorce and his stepfather’s abusive behavior.
The book’s themes of wealth, power, and morality are intricately woven throughout the narrative, raising thought-provoking questions about the American Dream and the cost of achieving success. Wilsey’s honesty and vulnerability in sharing his personal struggles make for a compelling read, and his descriptions of San Francisco during the 80s and 90s provide a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.
One of the strengths of Oh the Glory of it All is Wilsey’s characterization. From his larger than life stepfather to his eccentric mother and quirky childhood friends, each character is fully realized and unique.
Wilsey does an excellent job of capturing the idiosyncrasies of those around him, and his memoir reads like a novel in places.
However, the book’s pacing can be slow at times, and parts of the narrative feel overly self-indulgent or tangent.
While these moments do not detract from the overall quality of the memoir, they may frustrate readers looking for a more straightforward story. Additionally, the book’s cultural significance may be limited to those interested in San Francisco and the world of the wealthy, but the themes and insights are universal.
Overall, Oh the Glory of it All is a moving and thought-provoking memoir that is well worth reading. Wilsey’s exquisite prose, complex characterization, and insightful themes make for an unforgettable reading experience.
Anyone interested in exploring the complexities of family relationships, wealth, and morality will find this book rewarding. We give this memoir a 4.5 out of 5 rating.