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Extended Audio Sample Fiction Ruined My Family, by Jeanne Darst Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeanne Darst Narrator: Jeanne Darst Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Introducing a deeply funny, charismatic new voice: an entertaining memoir of a family haunted by its own myths and its obsessive idolization of the literary life.

Jeanne Darst was born the youngest of four daughters in an old, celebrated family long past its glory days. For the early part of her life, the family survived on the memory of past generations’ grandeur, and the romantic belief that Darst’s father would restore that greatness with his destined career as a novelist. Within a few years, however, it was abundantly clear to everyone but him that despite the many years enslaved to the writer’s craft and lifestyle, he was never going to sell a book. By the time of Darst’s adolescence, the family was broke, and her mother was consoling herself with nightly booze-fueled weepathons, while her father was still too possessed by the dream to get a job.

Later, Darst realizes she has inherited both the gene for alcoholism and the gene for wanting to write, and she isn’t sure which is more devastating. Does her need to write, to tell stories, mean that she’s doomed to repeat the mistakes of her father, or can she find a way to move beyond her family’s curse, and not have fiction ruin her life?

Now sober and a productive writer, Darst looks back on all those years with warmth, affection, and a moving degree of understanding—as well as wicked, deadpan humor.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A darkly comic account. . . Highly entertaining. The New Yorker

    Fiction Ruined My Family reads like a script for performance art, a rapid stand-up routine, careless and wisecracky, signaling moments for the audience to respond to a punch line by clapping. The tinkle of glasses subsides; the performer makes a grimace, takes a bow, goes on. Yet genuine pain is explored - for the dangerous ambitions of fame and achievement and the really dangerous distractions of carelessness with loved ones.

  • The wisecracking, ultrahip but ultimately tragic voice in "Fiction Ruined My Family part stand-up comedy, part Lie Down in Darkness — is fetching and fast and fun, and it's only after you fully understand the trauma at the heart of her family, the neglect that bordered on child abuse, that the sadness kicks in.
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  • There’s nothing rare these days about a memoir of unconventional parents and a difficult childhood, but Darst brings freshness and often startling humor to her own story - which helps balance its more serious second half, in which alcoholism (parental and not) is decreasingly hidden behind charm. The Boston Globe
  • [A] winningly snarky memoir. The New York Times
  • The girl's got flair. Entertainment Weekly
  • Jeanne Darst’s memoir about growing up in a hard-drinking family with big literary dreams is hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Marie Claire
  • In her memoir Fiction Ruined My Family, Jeanne Darst plunges into the story of her delusional family with wicked wit and fearlessness. Redbook
  • High fives to Jeanne Darst for Fiction Ruined My Family, her tale of surviving an alkie blue-blood mom, a hard-drinking failed-writer dad, and her own inebriated performer/playwright/crummy-job dysfunction to write this seriously comic tell-all about her entanglements, with family, friend, and—of course—her bodacious self. Elle
  • Darst has a brilliant eye for the absurd, sad, and often hilarious circumstances of her family life. . . . With cutting language, she chronicles the perils and joys of the writing life and her journey toward sobriety and truth. Publishers Weekly

  • Fiction Ruined My Family had me laughing out loud, which I almost never do, with one jaw-dropping scene after another. On nearly every page there’s some sentence that's so perfect, in an old-school Oscar Wilde/Dorothy Parker sort of way, that it made everything I've ever written or said seem like dull, drunken mumbling. Ira Glass, host of This American Life

  • Jeanne Darst’s memoir unfolds like a Eugene O’Neill play, with all the boozing and the weeping and the exclamatory self-pity. Only it’s also very funny, and it has a happy ending (more or less). Snap this book up. Tad Friend, author of Cheerful Money
  • As Tolstoy might have said if he'd survived the 1970s, happy families are all alike but every narcissistic parent is narcissistic in his or her own way. Jeanne Darst tells a story not only of family neuroses, artistic delusions and thwarted dreams but also of the nuances of social class, the tension between domesticity and bohemenianism, and the tragicomedy that comes from faking it but never quite making it. All my favorite themes!  I also laughed out loud more times than I can count. Meghan Daum, author of My Misspent Youth and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House
  • Jeanne Darst is funnier than a blotto WASP in a Lily Pulitzer wheelchair. Wendy Burden, author of Dead End Gene Pool 
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  • In the tradition of the Mitford sisters' chronicles (but minus Hitler), Fiction Ruined My Family  is both a very funny tragedy and a very sad comedy. Patricia Marx, author of Him Her Him Again and the End of Him
  • Dazzlingly funny, gut wrenching and infested with writing that will absolutely floor you. Fiction Ruined My Family has ruined me—how will I ever be able to use those adjectives again and mean them as much as I do now? Sloane Crosley, author of How Did You Get This Number
  • Jeanne Darst manages to evoke humor and despair in a single sentence. I found myself rooting so hard for her. Fiction Ruined My Family is a great testament to surviving and overcoming wacky parents. A wonderful book. Julie Klam, author of You Had Me at Woof

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Gaije | 10/23/2011

    " Really good. Smart, funny, and centered on some of my own favorite preoccupations. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ellen | 9/1/2011

    " This is a great complement to THE GLASS CASTLE (while in some ways acting as its opposite). Read this if you like books about: WASPs, addiction, literary snobbery, New York in the 80s/90s, frustrated novelists. "

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