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Extended Audio Sample Oh the Glory of It All Audiobook, by Sean Wilsey Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.36 out of 53.36 out of 53.36 out of 53.36 out of 53.36 out of 5 3.36 (28 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sean Wilsey Narrator: Scott Brick Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2005 ISBN: 9780786553495
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In what will be the most talked-about memoir of the year, a founding editor of McSweeney’s gives us his wise, electric, and painfully funny story.

“In the beginning we were happy. And we were always excessive. So in the beginning we were happy to excess.” With these opening lines Sean Wilsey takes us on an exhilarating tour of life in the strangest, wealthiest, and most grandiose of families.

Sean’s blond-bombshell mother regularly entertains Black Panthers and movie stars in her marble and glass penthouse, “eight hundred feet in the air above San Francisco.” His enigmatic father uses a jet helicopter to drop Sean off at the video arcade and lectures his son on proper hygiene in public restrooms, “You should wash your hands first, before you use the urinal. Not after. Your penis isn’t dirty. But your hands are.”

When Sean turns nine years old, his father divorces his mother and marries her best friend. Sean’s life blows apart. His mother first invites him to commit suicide with her, then has a “vision” of salvation that requires packing her Louis Vuitton luggage and traveling the globe, a retinue of multiracial children in tow. Her goal: peace on earth (and a Nobel Prize). Sean meets Indira Gandhi, Helmut Kohl, Menachem Begin, and the pope, hoping each one might come back to San Francisco and persuade his father to rejoin the family.

With its multiplicity of settings and kaleidoscopic mix of preoccupations—sex, Russia, jet helicopters, seismic upheaval, boarding schools, Middle Earth, skinheads, home improvement, suicide, skateboarding, Sovietology, public transportation, massage, Christian fundamentalism, dogs, Texas, global thermonuclear war, truth, evil, masturbation, hope, Bethlehem, CT, eventual salvation—Oh the Glory of It All is memoir as bildungsroman as explosion.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A vivid mix of brio, self-awareness, and sophistication…Writing well is indeed the best revenge.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[An] irreverent and remarkably candid memoir about growing up in wealthy eighties San Francisco…Rollicking, ruthless…Ultimately generous-hearted.”

    Vogue

  • “The cliché ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ may well have been coined to describe Sean Wilsey’s wild, wise, and whip-smart memoir.”

    Elle

  • “Sean Wilsey’s magnificent memoir spares no one but forgives almost everything; it’s a kindly act of retribution that’s sure to ring a bell with any adult survivor of parental narcissism. A bell, hell. Oh the Glory of It All becomes a veritable carillon of remembered pain, never once losing its wise and worldly sense of humor. I couldn’t stop reading the damn thing.”

    Armistead Maupin, New York Times bestselling author of Mary Ann in Autumn

  • “Exuberant, honest, and unforgettable. Wilsey shows that great privilege doesn’t guarantee bliss, but also doesn’t preclude it. I’m glad he survived this odd/epic youth and emerged from it such a sane, generous, and funny narrator. My only regret is that he’s not older than he is, since there would be more to read.”

    George Saunders, New York Times bestselling author of Tenth of December

  • “[A] startlingly honest tale…The writing is vivid, detailed, deep, and filled with fresh metaphors.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Honest to a fault, richly veined with indelible images: a monumental piece of work.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • One of the 2005 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cat | 2/11/2014

    " Mildly amusing- that Dede Wilsey what a fucking bitch. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Yoshi | 2/8/2014

    " Hillarious and depressing, just like me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dale | 2/7/2014

    " I recommend this book to all my friends living in SF. It's interesting to read about this guy's childhood growing up in the City. "

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

    " This follows the autobiographical (though I am sure rather embellished) account of the son of a famous millionaire family (the Wilseys) on the West coast of America. Life must be weird when you grew up around Danielle Steele and I would guess things could only get better from then on. Our protagonist is a wreck and can't seem to get over the separation and divorce of his parents. While it's true that their relationships becomes strained with him caught in the middle and that he is not given the same great attention is new step siblings are, this is no male Cinderella here. The bottom line is that he has thousands more opportunities than most kids get and was raised in luxury. What he did instead of try to work through his issues and prove to his new step mom that he wasn't a complete wastrel is to fulfill her prophesies and flunk out of every rich school his parents sent him to acquiring all kinds of drug habits and venereal diseases in the meantime. As his options wane, the schools become successively more restrictive and like prisons but it's really his own choices and volition that have brought him these consequences and I can't say I felt too sorry for him at all. What I disliked greatly about the book is that I think his point was that you were supposed to feel a little sorry for him. He makes a huge effort with his poor me routine and makes his eventual recovery seem like this magnificent feat when the truth is many more have done greater things with less. The only slight satisfaction I received is that the stepmom, who I hated even more than the main protagonist, probably received her just desserts when the book was released and slandered her. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nav | 1/29/2014

    " I really liked this book. I think people born in the 70's will like this book the most. When I read other reviews of it, other people said that it was too long and could have given the same info in less pages. I agree, but I still really enjoyed it. I also love books that take place in San Francisco. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole Wilson | 1/15/2014

    " A totally entertaining memoir of a trouble-making kid and his dysfuntional family... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sanjay | 1/8/2014

    " This book is about a kid who grows up in an extraordinarily wealthy family. This, in some ways, is what makes the book interesting. As a regular person we cannot help but be fascinated by the uniqueness of the author's childhood and the behavior of the wealthy. The book tends to wander off into self-indulgence at points and this is especially true as the book progresses and the accumulated psychological damage of growing up rich and neglected has taken its toll. Not a bad read, but in many ways exactly what I would expect from someone with the author's history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alyson | 1/7/2014

    " I remember reading this right before I moved to Portland, and really enjoying the first part of the book to the point of almost mailing it to friends far away to read, but gradually deciding not to after reading it to the end. I give the first 4/5th of the book 5 stars, and the last 1/5th (ish, all from memory) 1 star. Strange. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patti | 12/20/2013

    " This was an interesting book in a gossipy kind of way. It was long winded. It kind of caters to our desire to know that rich people are bad parents. Leaves one feeling sad, self-righteous and guiltily happy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kendra | 10/21/2013

    " Fun if you live/ have lived in San Francisco. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andy | 5/4/2013

    " About growing up in one of the most dysfunctional families of all time (including the worst stepmother ever), and then surviving a series of remote and insane reform schools. Truly hilarious, but also extremely sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 1/31/2013

    " Fascinating for the San Francisco history alone, and a really terrific voice for a dude basically my age. I mean, I'm an idiot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 11/10/2012

    " Dark humor, very funny and telling memoir. He works for McSweeney's. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dylan | 9/30/2012

    " Oh the boredom of it all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rand | 8/10/2012

    " Not bad, for a memoir. Dude lived an interesting life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tricia | 4/8/2012

    " shoudla been shortened by 150 pages. editing is a good thing, people! still pretty fascinating in parts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann Royal Nicholas | 3/28/2012

    " Crazy life, crazy parents. Another great tale of survival. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Merma0022 | 9/27/2011

    " it's never too early to start summing up your story "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna Wick | 9/8/2011

    " this was so honest and fed right into my love of anything to do with SF! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gailyn Bybee | 8/18/2011

    " I didn't actually finish the whole book. I am just done reading it, because I couldn't stay into it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 6/28/2011

    " honestly, my favorite part is the cover art. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mati | 5/16/2011

    " I just finished this massive book in a record amount of time because it's hilarious and about the scandals of SF socialites from a child's perspective. Read it if you want to laugh and feel like your family was sane! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Darbi | 5/6/2011

    " I have been trying to remember this book for AGES!!! I absolutely adored this book! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cheryl | 1/11/2011

    " This memoir could have benefitted from some editing; I kept reading it only to make sure the author was ok in the end (spoiler alert: he is). "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Margery | 1/10/2011

    " Interesting but not recommended unless you are planning to send your child to a lockup school. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 bluejeanamy | 1/8/2011

    " Enjoyed reading about San Francisco through the eyes of the author -- and all the ins and outs of the crazy socialite world. Author can be hilarious/heartbreaking yada yada. But -- too long. Way too long. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katherine | 12/22/2010

    " Like Burroughs/Running With Scissors... could have been an interesting memoir but it's very self-important and self-pitying. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Will | 12/18/2010

    " Dave Eggers-esque, but much less cleverly written. Still worth reading, but not something I'd drop another book for "

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About the Author

Sean Wilsey’s writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, and McSweeney’s Quarterly, where he is the editor at large. Before going to McSweeney’s he worked as an editorial assistant at the New Yorker, a fact checker at Ladies’ Home Journal, a letters correspondent at Newsweek, and an apprentice gondolier in Venice, Italy.

About the Narrator

Scott Brick, actor, narrator, and writer, attended UCLA and spent ten years in a traveling Shakespeare company. Passionate about the spoken word, he has narrated a wide variety of audiobooks, from thrillers and science fiction to classics and nonfiction. He has recorded more than eight hundred audiobooks and won over fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards and several of the prestigious Audie Awards. He was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine and the Voice of Choice for 2016 by Booklist magazine.