Download The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait Audiobook

The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait Audiobook, by Blake Bailey Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Blake Bailey Narrator: Jim Meskimen Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2014 ISBN: 9781482964264
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The renowned biographer’s unforgettable portrait of a family in ruins—his own

Meet the Baileys: Burck, a prosperous lawyer once voted the American Legion’s “Citizen of the Year” in his tiny hometown of Vinita, Oklahoma; his wife Marlies, who longs to recapture her festive life in Greenwich Village as a fetching young German immigrant, fresh off the boat; their addled son Scott, who repeatedly crashes the family Porsche; and Blake, the younger son, trying to find a way through the storm. “You’re gonna be just like me,” a drunken Scott taunts him. “You’re gonna be worse.”

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Blake Bailey has been hailed as “addictively readable” (New York Times) and praised for his ability to capture lives “compellingly and in harrowing detail” (Time). The Splendid Things We Planned is his darkly funny account of growing up in the shadow of an erratic and increasingly dangerous brother, an exhilarating and sometimes harrowing story that culminates in one unforgettable Christmas.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This fine and haunting memoir touches the spot where family, responsibility, and helplessness converge. It’s not a pretty place, but boy has Blake Bailey made it memorable. The Splendid Things We Planned is as forceful and revealing as any of the author’s excellent biographies, and that’s really saying something.”

    David Sedaris

  • “An extraordinary memoir, written with the love and rage of a brother and son and controlled with the skill of a master biographer.”

    Geoff Dyer, National Book Critics Circle Award winner

  • “Enthralling…Achingly honest…A fearless, deeply felt, and often frightening book…[The Splendid Things We Planned] arrives at a certain undeniable truth about how we are capable of feeling love for people we would never choose to be around.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The book brings a surprising degree of humor and frankness to describing some of the most humiliating moments in its author’s life…A sleek, dramatic, authentically lurid story fueled by candid fraternal rivalry.”

    New York Times

  • “Vibrantly evocative and car-crash engrossing.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Perhaps celebrated biographer Blake Bailey’s fascination with the secret lives of others has its roots in his own colorful family tree; his memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait, suggests it’s so.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “Very entertaining [and] immensely enjoyable—but also profoundly, persuasively sad. Like Mary Karr or David Sedaris, Bailey doesn’t try to manufacture an answer to the questions posed by his family’s failings.”


  • “Manages to do justice to the tedium of chronic dysfunction without becoming tedious itself…Compelling because of Bailey’s emotional acuity as well as his wit, which emerges as an adaptive coping mechanism—a way to survive despair by streaking it with light.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “[Told with] scathing honesty…grotesque and grimly funny…[Bailey’s] struggle as a writer looking for truth and as a brother and son looking for catharsis gives the book an unsettling urgency…its specific story, about a family spinning out of control, naturally points to wider, shared experience and pushes us to consider what we owe our parents, siblings, and children—and what they owe us in return.”

  • “A haunting portrait of more than one tortured soul and a heartfelt probing of the limits of brotherly love.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “It seems fitting that biographer Bailey tells the story of his own life by chronicling his brother Scott’s alcoholism and drug addiction…[His] story captures the contradictions and tensions that simmer just below the surface of the family…and Bailey tells it wonderfully, in a tragicomic tone that slowly reveals the true depths to which his older brother has sunk.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Bailey’s memoir is a more genteel, though no less accomplished, update of Harry Crews’s A Childhood, with details layered in an unflinching fusillade until a poignant, maddening portrait of Scott—and the rest of the Baileys, seen through the lens of Scott’s descent—takes shape. The effect of the writing and Bailey’s own wrestling with time, memory, and loss lingers after the final passages.”

    Library Journal

  • “A brother’s lament, a hard-won, clear-eyed view of one family’s tortured history, The Splendid Things We Planned is everything we hope for in a modern memoir. Blake Bailey’s triumph here is both personal and literary: a beautiful book, rising out of the ruins.”

    Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Devotion

  • “Blake Bailey is the closest thing we have to a modern-day Richard Ellmann. How unexpected, but also how utterly perfect, that one of our best literary biographers now reveals the gripping true-life novel at the core of his own experience.”

    Tom Bissell, award-winning author of Magic Hours

  • “One of the most sensitive, intelligent, and affecting books I’ve read in a long time. The Splendid Things We Planned is the story of an American family, and of two sons whose lives went in very different directions, and though a memoir, it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, reminiscent of the fiction of Bailey’s former subjects Richard Yates and John Cheever in its compassion, its lack of sentimentality, and the rich, detailed prose in which it is written.”

    Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Nominated for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography

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About the Author

Blake Bailey is the author of award-winning biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Virginia, where he is the Mina Hohenberg Darden Professor of Creative Writing at Old Dominion University.

About the Narrator

Jim Meskimen is a stage, film, and television actor who has appeared in many well-known movies and television shows. He acted in Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon for director Ron Howard, both of which were nominated for Best Picture Oscars. His television appearances include The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Friends, Lie to Me, Criminal Minds, and Parks and Recreation. He is also a painter, award-winning audiobook narrator, and audiobook director for Galaxy Audio.