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The Splendid Things We Planned

By Blake Bailey


251 pages

What’s it about? This is a memoir from biographer Blake Bailey.   It is a story of family.  How families shape us in good ways and in destructive ways.  Mr. Bailey tells his story with incredible honesty.  It is at times funny, at times off-putting, and almost always sad. What did I think? I have immense respect for anyone who can open himself up to the world in such a brutally honest way.  This is not always a likable family, or a likable author.   However it seems like a REAL family, with real problems.  As the novel progresses Mr. Bailey’s brother Scott slowly comes unhinged.  The affect it has on the whole family is heart wrenching.  That the family does not always rise to the occasion is told without reservation.  Mr. Bailey does not sugar coat anything.  He does however tell his story with honesty and a sense of humor. Should you read it? I would recommend this.  I must say that I did not really like many of the decisions the characters made, but most of the time I was rooting for them.  Usually that would mean I would get fed up and not like the book- but in this case I really did like the book. Quote- “Naturally I wanted my brother to be pleased that I’d put up a photo of us (poster-sized, no less) over my bed, but also I expected him to see the humor of that feature in the midst of such a piquant , overall tackiness.  And really the dismal fact of the matter was simply this: I’d hung that photo because I thought it flatteredme, because I was badly in need of flattery at the time. After a silence, my brother said “Wow” and let his breath out in a long hiss.  “I really don’t know what to say, Zweib.” He was on the verge of tears over something that meant almost nothing to me.  I did my best to change the subject.”

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