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Oh the Glory of It All | [Sean Wilsey]

Oh the Glory of It All

"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.
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Publisher's Summary

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, "800 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.

©2005 Sean Wilsey; (P)2005 Penguin Audio and Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Honest to a fault, richly veined with indelible images: a monumental piece of work." (Kirkus Reviews)
"An incredibly powerful performance: a memoir that announces the debut of a remarkably gifted, daring and...very funny writer." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (51 )
5 star
 (16)
4 star
 (13)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
3.2 (13 )
5 star
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1 star
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Story
3.6 (12 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Sherry L. Wright Flower Mound, TX United States 07-22-05
    Sherry L. Wright Flower Mound, TX United States 07-22-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    148
    ratings
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    347
    51
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    8
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    Overall
    "STOP! DON'T DO IT!"

    Oh the torture of it all.... I thought I was going to die of boredom listening to this book, it droned, and droned, and droned, and droned (a sampling of the writing style - repeat the same thing over and over and call it writing) This book could really be condensed down to about 5 hours and MAYBE be a good listen - but in this unabridged version it's just "so much non-essential drivel". It doesn't even end well so do not waste a selection on this. I love long books that are involved - when interesting. Unfortunately I chose this book for it's length and it's reader - who by the way - true to form IS the best thing about this book. Scott Brick has always been a favorite but I really think this book even bored him.
    Just a warning - if you liked the book then I'm sorry, but I hope whomever is thinking of this book takes the time to listen in depth to the sample..... just to see... good luck.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James New York, NY, United States 10-03-05
    James New York, NY, United States 10-03-05 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
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    90
    7
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Oh the Pity of it ALL"

    Too bad, but this compelling story is ruined by an unfocused author. I would love to read the real book buried somewhere inside the repetitious claptrap. Still, Scott Brick makes the most of this unfortunate situation.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elliott Philadelphia, PA, USA 08-02-05
    Elliott Philadelphia, PA, USA 08-02-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    6
    6
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    "Fascinating from beginning to end."

    Oh, the glory of a mother and step mother being mean to a son, and the son turning out to be a wonderful writer. I would like to thank the writer for hours of enjoyment, Scott Brick, for giving it a subdued read, The New Yorker Magazine for intoducing us to Sean Wilsey with an except April, 2005, and kudos again to the author for being such a good wordsmith and story teller. Last, but not least, if I'm ever at an event, and if Dede Wilsey is there, I would like someone to point her out to me.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Gardner Bowers Whittier, CA USA 07-24-05
    Susan Gardner Bowers Whittier, CA USA 07-24-05 Member Since 2003

    Susu

    HELPFUL VOTES
    106
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    94
    21
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    1
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    Overall
    "I give up"

    I have listened to the first (of three) parts of this book - and in a personal, audible.com-first, I am tossing in my towel. Too long, too much detail, too much working-out-of-personal-issues. Darn, I say!

    Scott Brick does his usual excellent job, but even using the "faster" setting on my I-pod, I still can't get through this.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia League City, TX, United States 01-01-06
    Patricia League City, TX, United States 01-01-06 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    84
    48
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    "Oh, the Glory of It All"

    I had a tough time sticking with the book because it was so graphic. However, I enjoyed reading about people I had heard of and how the other half lives. In the end it all came together and I have to give Sean Wiltsey credit for standing tall.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Key Largo, FL, USA 08-09-05
    Barbara Key Largo, FL, USA 08-09-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "Boring to a fault"

    Besides the content of the book I just couldn't get past the annoying voice of the reader. He sounds flat at all times and actually put me to sleep while listening. At times I couldn't tell which character was speaking the dialogue since it's all in the same monotone.

    Don't waste your time with this selection. I gritted it out because it was all I had to listen to during a 1300+ mile car ride.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jesse 07-29-05
    Jesse 07-29-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
    235
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    127
    61
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    9
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    Overall
    "Long time to get there"

    Nicely narrated presentation which dragged and skulked like the core of the book itself. A sad display of me first parenting, a screwed up hero fighting his way through life, finally catching up. In spite of everyone.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-25-05 Member Since 2004

    miriam24

    HELPFUL VOTES
    37
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    17
    8
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    Overall
    "Scathing and searching"

    Absorbing and insightful, self-involved in the best way. Wilsey is an expansive, genuine writer who rarely strikes a false note. I thought Wilsey's story was fascinating, and even more interesting were Wilsey's careful, wry, and sometimes angry attempts to make sense of his childhood. Wilsey is matter-of-fact, never letting himself off the hook or descending into self-pity. In other audiobooks, I've found the narrator, Scott Brick, difficult to deal with, but not this time; I thought Brick's narration here was understated and unintrusive.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara 09-07-05
    Barbara 09-07-05
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    156
    1
    Overall
    "Zzzzzzzzzz"

    The narrator.....has too many......long.....drawn-out.......pauses. I, too, like the previous reviewer, fell asleep every time I tried to listen to this.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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