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Download Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor Audiobook, by Tad Friend Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (362 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tad Friend Narrator: William Dufris Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2008 ISBN: 9781455197057
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Tad Friend’s family is nothing if not illustrious: his father was president of Swarthmore College, and at a Smith college poetry contest judged by W. H. Auden, his mother came in second—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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Cheerful Money, by a self-stinging Wasp, is sharp as well as blunt about this problematic caste, but also rather proud of its salty aspects. An insightful, highly humorous memoir, exceptionally well-written.”

    Peter Matthiessen, author of Shadow Country

  • “American Wasps are now as rare as black truffles, and rarely has their story been told so candidly or entertainingly as it is in Tad Friend’s wonderful new memoir…Cheerful Money absolutely sings…This is a memorable hymn to a vanishing America. Exceptionally warm-hearted, full of good cheer, and ruthlessly funny, it may even have you singing along.”

    Washington Post

  • “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 exposé of his native culture…[writing] with minimal whining and considerable style and soul.”

    NPR, The Year’s Best Memoirs

  • Cheerful Money offers a deadpan defense of the Wasp culture whose outline it simultaneously traces…pays homage to that stiff upper lip as more pervasive, complex, and ultimately beneficial than a mere question of upbringing.”

    AV Club

  • “Friend knows exactly how privileged he is and recognizes that readers won’t easily feel sorry for someone who can spend more than $160,000 on therapy…Instead of asking for sympathy, he works at showing how his efforts at emotional integration have begun to pay off, including the relationship with his own wife and children, in a story of cross-generational frustration and reconciliation that transcends class boundaries.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A multi-generational portrait of his family, an impressive set of Wasps whose ancestors include a signer of the Declaration of Independence…Friend sprinkles hilarious aphorisms throughout the text…funny and enlightening.”

    BookPage 

  • “In Tad Friend’s stunning memoir about the lost world of the Wasp elite, the Hamptons’ Georgica Pond comes to seem as Edenic as Thoreau’s Walden. Friend animates a deeply private, aristocratic way of life with detailed, moving intimacy.”

    Susan Cheever

  • “With its Waspish brew of aunts, alcoholics, and dashed promise (not to mention an assortment of Inkys, Wassas, Lettys, Goggys, and Hannys), Cheerful Money goes down like a bittersweet late-summer cocktail made with a jigger of Cheever and a splash of Wodehouse.”

    Graydon Carter

  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2009

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer Gehant | 2/11/2014

    " I love "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and anything involving Amanda Hesser, so I had high hopes for her husband's book. I found the historical information compelling and interesting. A glimpse into a life I'll never experience or touch. I found the autobiographical elements to be less interesting, which surprised, and disappointed, me. Overall an OK read that furthered my depth of Hesser knowledge, but not terribly interesting as a stand alone work. Sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deborah | 2/5/2014

    " Agree with the reader who said the first half of the book chronicling the author's family history is interesting, but the second, which is mostly about himself, is not. Maybe I couldn't get past his admission that he blew through his inheritance paying for psychoanalysis. And now I paid to listen to him continue from the couch. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Remy Kothe | 2/1/2014

    " This book will not appeal to everyone. I found the author smug (of course) and aside from his specific issues I really enjoyed the exploration of Wasp Heritage. For those of you who have ever been told someone has a "TL" for you, read on. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shiloh | 1/30/2014

    " I could only read this book in spurts as it is less narrative and more episodic. Lovingly captures a cast of characters but fails to let the reader in - it's all, of course, an inside joke. But you knew it would be with a title like Cheerful Money. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nette | 1/21/2014

    " I'd describe this book as "engrossing" -- every time I'd pick it up I'd have to force myself to stop. (However, ignore the blurbs on the back about it being "side-splittingly funny", because unless you find repression and resentment and detailed explanations of everyone's inheritances hilarious, it's not.) But it's very enjoyable, and the author likes to throw around his fancy vocab words, so it was like getting a free SAT review. Mumchance! Adumbrate! Asseverate! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 1/13/2014

    " Really enjoyable, easy read. I liked Tad's writing. It was as crisp as a Wasp white collard shirt. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carla | 12/30/2013

    " The family stories are wonderful, some very funny, the the insights into Wasp culture are dead on. The reticence that that the author brings to the book ( although I get the feeling that he thinks he's Baring All) is very Waspy. A good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Frances | 12/16/2013

    " Not really as much fun as I had hoped. I've read better and cleverer memoirs about life in the "upper" classes. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Grier | 12/14/2013

    " Horrificly boring and tedious. Not funny at all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Odoublegood | 11/26/2013

    " enjoyed the vignettes; lingered over the photographs "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Therese Gilardi | 5/31/2013

    " i like the style of the writer, but the book became too bogged down in family trivia that was irrelevant. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Martha Wilkie | 1/27/2013

    " Why, just who is that "quizzical WASP" ... "trust and estates lawyer" mentioned in this book... Not particularly brilliant, but a fun quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa Michele | 12/1/2012

    " This is in the memoir genre, for which I am a sucker. But the guy is a great writer, even if he is very self absorbed. I liked his insight into family dynamics. Interesting history of WASPs too. Not much of a plot but good quick read and peek into snooty American society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 10/24/2012

    " Admission: I went to a couple of shipley proms and grew up near the author, albeit about 7 years later than him. But I'm fascinated with other people's lives and enjoyed the rambling tale of his. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Russ Walker | 9/30/2012

    " A very nostalgic memoir ... which I liked. Other than the wealth in the family tree (none in mine), there were so many things here that reminded me of my family members. If you're a WASP who loves the New Yorker, you'll probably love this book too. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Miriam Kohler-Pogash | 8/18/2012

    " I started to read this book as a way of better understanding the non-Jews in my life. But, I put it down as it was supposed to be funny and is decidedly not. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 7/10/2012

    " I had no idea that certain ideas and behaviors are tribal and not unique. Read it if you are waspy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Charlotte | 1/15/2012

    " A very talented and insightful author... but as Gertrude Stein said, "There is no there there." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hank Stuever | 9/26/2011

    " Fascinating, marvelously written. Though they are difficult to love, Tad Friend's story of himself and his family offers an important portrait of a certain kind of American, at a certain time. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marissa | 4/20/2011

    " Never finished this one. I had an impossible time keeping track of the characters, thus had no emotions about any of their actions. I found many of the people mentioned irritating and I never really understood why we were being told this mundane story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hank | 4/3/2011

    " Fascinating, marvelously written. Though they are difficult to love, Tad Friend's story of himself and his family offers an important portrait of a certain kind of American, at a certain time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary | 3/11/2011

    " Not very impressed. I liked reading about Main Line PA, Hartford VT and Woodstock VT, but did not enjoy all the excruciating details of relatives' foibles and terminal diseases. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Molly | 1/17/2011

    " The book starts of well, but the author never really convinces you to care about his family history. However, his description of his narrow definition of WASPs is humorous and scarily familiar. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Miriam | 1/8/2011

    " I started to read this book as a way of better understanding the non-Jews in my life. But, I put it down as it was supposed to be funny and is decidedly not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Russ | 11/29/2010

    " A very nostalgic memoir ... which I liked. Other than the wealth in the family tree (none in mine), there were so many things here that reminded me of my family members. If you're a WASP who loves the New Yorker, you'll probably love this book too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 10/22/2010

    " sort of like a too long new yorker article at times, it just chugs along with no hills/ valleys. At times you want to shake him and tell him to pull himself together, at other times, you wince as keenly observed vignettes are both painful for the author and close to home for many readers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Remy | 10/5/2010

    " This book will not appeal to everyone. I found the author smug (of course) and aside from his specific issues I really enjoyed the exploration of Wasp Heritage. For those of you who have ever been told someone has a "TL" for you, read on. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Awesome | 9/25/2010

    " I think a history of WASPs would be pretty interesting, and I love Tad Friend's short pieces, but both mushed together in book-length memoir form was a little underwhelming. Not bad, though! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Odoublegood | 9/13/2010

    " enjoyed the vignettes; lingered over the photographs
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 April | 9/5/2010

    " I could not totally relate to this book... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt | 9/4/2010

    " Swat the Wasp! Interesting book, well-written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 5/23/2010

    " Admission: I went to a couple of shipley proms and grew up near the author, albeit about 7 years later than him. But I'm fascinated with other people's lives and enjoyed the rambling tale of his. "

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About the Author
Author Tad Friend

Tad Friend is a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he writes the magazine’s “Letter from California.” Prior to that, he wrote regularly for Outside, New York, and Esquire and wrote travel stories from all seven continents. He plays golf and squash and watches a lot of television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Amanda Hesser, and their children, Walker and Addie.

About the Narrator

William Dufris attended the University of Southern Maine in Portland-Gorham before pursuing a career in voice work in London and then the United States. He has won more than twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, was voted one of the Best Voices at the End of the Century by AudioFile magazine, and won the prestigious Audie Award in 2012 for best nonfiction narration. He lives with his family in Maine.