Extended Audio Sample

Download Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir Audiobook, by Wendy Burden Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,226 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Wendy Burden Narrator: Coleen Marlo Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2010 ISBN: 9781400185696
Regular Price: $17.99 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $12.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

For generations, the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius “The Commodore” Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy’s birth, the Burden’s had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline—and were rarely seen not holding a drink. In Dead End Gene Pool, Wendy invites readers to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother.

At the heart of the story is Wendy’s glamorous and aloof mother who, after her husband’s suicide, travels the world in search of the perfect sea and ski tan, leaving her three children in the care of a chain-smoking Scottish nanny, Fifth Avenue grandparents, and an assorted cast of long-suffering household servants (who Wendy and her brothers love to terrorize). Rife with humor, heartbreak, family intrigue, and booze, Dead End Gene Pool offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of old money and gives truth to an old maxim: the rich are different.

Download and start listening now!

begf

Quotes & Awards

  • “In this dark and humorous memoir Wendy Burden takes us inside the family circus that was her side of the Vanderbilt dynasty, bringing American class structure, sibling rivalry and the decline of the bluebloods vividly to life. It is a wonderful read.”

    Gus Van Sant, director and producer of Good Will Hunting 

  • “Charles Addams meets Carrie Bradshaw in this honest, sardonic, and touching memoir. Burden’s tale makes for riveting and often hilarious reading.”

    Jane Stanton Hitchcock 

  • “This blueblood tale is spun so deftly and so charmingly that it is easy to forget that this it is essentially a sad story of family neglect and degeneration. Burden joins the ranks of such memoirists as Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris, who have successfully mined their dysfunctional childhoods for comedic gold.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shannon | 2/6/2014

    " Ugh - finished this book and wish I had not bought it. Review to follow. "

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

    " Started this on vacation instead of Paris Wife. Good writing and very funny-- will cause you to laugh out loud at times. Sad life in many ways but seems like she has made the best of it. I enjoyed reading it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hannah Spector | 12/23/2013

    " Super rich people be super crazy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elle | 12/16/2013

    " Well this is a complicated book about a complicated family, the Vanderbuilts. The author portrays an eccentric and dysfunctional upbringing amidst great fortune. Yes, the rich are different. But it is the seething hatred of her family that most comes across in this book. Wendy spends her childhood racking up resentments against every single person she comes in contact with, from grandparents to mother to brothers to nurses and governesses and chauffeurs, chefs. Nobody is spared. Why is she so angry, one asks? Is it because she is given everything she needs? No, she wants a pony for Christmas and doesn't get one. Her brother does, so he is immediately on her hit list. I wish the author some peace, as she has suffered greatly, growing up in the lap of luxury. We should all be so cruelly treated. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Ferguson | 11/23/2013

    " Pretty decent with good back story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily | 11/15/2013

    " An interesting story of the life in a family with inherited wealth from the time of the robber barons. No heavy lifting needed to read this one, but an interesting read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robin | 11/4/2013

    " The book was purported to be a true story. It would have been more interesting if I cared about any of the characters, but I didn't. Some books have characters that are flawed but still endearing in some ways. These people were selfish and weird and I couldn't care less about any of them. To me that is essential in a book, I have to care how things turn out for at least one character in a book. So I can't recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Blaise | 10/18/2013

    " Another crazy family memoir. This one comes from a slightly different perspective as they are both dysfunctional and rich. Burden's writing was pretty funny at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 9/25/2013

    " This book proves to me that we all put our pants on One Leg At A Time. It's just that some of us can hide it better than others with a little help from "Ben Franklins". "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 faiche13 | 9/6/2013

    " An amusing look into growing-up wealthy and ignored. It's difficult to follow as the stories jump around all over the place. But there are a few laugh-out-loud moments as told by a charming, macabre little girl. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 7/12/2013

    " This book is a memoir detailing the lives of the famous Vanderbilt family. It has some laugh out loud moments and is a validation that everyone's family is a little crazy. It did get to be a little long, but was interesting to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 7/9/2013

    " Great non-fiction, darkly funny tales of Wendy Burden's spoiled rich childhood with an absent mother and eccentric grandparents. I wish she had included more of the grandeur; there were times when the writing didn't convey the impossible wealth as clearly. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karina | 4/13/2013

    " Loved this book. Haven't read a dark humor this well done in a long time. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Susan | 1/29/2013

    " I didn't like this much. I read about half, then skipped through to the end and read the last couple of sections. It was distastefula and kind of boring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katherine | 9/13/2012

    " Bizarre look at an interesting and wildly wealthy American family. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessica | 8/6/2012

    " Fairly entertaining. The order of events and writing was choppy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Holly | 4/20/2012

    " Yawn. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. It didn't. Wendy Burden has a fun, entertaining writing style, but it wasn't enough to carry the book. I gave it up only a quarter of the way into it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mila | 3/12/2012

    " Love the writing, subject matter is disturbing and fascinating at the same time. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melyssa | 2/13/2012

    " I had heard this book was funny, so I guess my expectations were high. The whole book was pretty sad, and the author seems to have a fixation on bathroom humor. Not really my cup of tea. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Care | 1/6/2012

    " Just not my cup of tea. Too much dark covered up with attempts at humor. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy | 11/26/2011

    " The rich ARE different! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tobi | 11/11/2011

    " A real look into a rich family and how weird and messed up they are. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nicole | 10/20/2011

    " Not sure why I felt the need to finish a book I did not like. I just kept thinking it was not as bad as Selma's Sense of Snow... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sara | 8/21/2011

    " Hilarious! I can't wait for her next book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill Delaney | 7/15/2011

    " I liked it. I am always curius about the rich and who better to tell that story than a Vanderbilt! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen Flatley | 6/2/2011

    " One of the best memoirs I have ever read.......a recollection of growing up a Vanderbilt that reads like a cross between one of the Eloise books if written by Wednesday Addams. Touching and hilarious. Would make a fantastic book club selection! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori Ann | 5/27/2011

    " Very well written. Sure glad I didn't grow up in that house. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 5/25/2011

    " Memoir of Wendy Burden and her crazy life among rich relatives and an absentee mother. It was interesting and at some parts quite disturbing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole | 5/23/2011

    " Highly entertaining if you are morbidly interested in the screwed-up lives of America's richest families--I sure am. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl S. | 5/7/2011

    " A little "glasscastle-esque" but with lots more alcohol and money. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Holly | 4/25/2011

    " Yawn. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen. It didn't. Wendy Burden has a fun, entertaining writing style, but it wasn't enough to carry the book. I gave it up only a quarter of the way into it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 4/16/2011

    " Ah - interesting enough but not really outstanding. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nicole | 4/16/2011

    " Not sure why I felt the need to finish a book I did not like. I just kept thinking it was not as bad as Selma's Sense of Snow... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wanda | 3/31/2011

    " side-splitting funny. The Vanderbilt's never saw this coming. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 3/28/2011

    " So outlandish at times, I suspect its complete veracity, but still hilarious and delicious. Given all the bad behavior, the "acceptance" at the end didn't ring true for me, but this book is so fun, I really didn't care. How the other .01% lives, indeed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 3/26/2011

    " Funny and sad. Great quick read. Oh, the idle rich.... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alison | 3/18/2011

    " The glimpses into the lives of inherited mega-wealth had their fascinating moments, and Burden's mother was a piece of work who is amusing to read about but who must have been horrible to have as a mother. However, the book doesn't have much point to it. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Wendy Burden

Wendy Burden is a confirmed New Yorker who, to her constant surprise, lives in Portland, Oregon. She is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, which qualifies her to comment freely on the downward spiral of blue blood families. She has worked as an illustrator, a zookeeper, a taxidermist, and as an art director for a pornographic magazine, from which she was fired for being too tasteful. She was also the owner and chef of a small French restaurant, Chez Wendy. She has yet to attend mortuary school, but is planning on it.

About the Narrator

Coleen Marlo is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator who has been nominated for an Audie Award twice, winning in 2011. She has been awarded three Listen-Up Awards from Publishers Weekly, an AudioFile Audiobook of the Year Award in 2011, and was named Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2010 by Publishers Weekly. She is a member of the prestigious Actors Studio and taught acting for ten years at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. Marlo is a proud founding member of Deyan Institute of Voice Artistry and Technology.