Cheerful Money

Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor
By Tad Friend (Trade Paperback, 2010)
Tad Friend's family is nothing if not illustrious: his father was president of Swarthmore College, and at Smith his mother came in second in a poetry contest judged by W.H. Auden--to Sylvia Plath.  For centuries, Wasps like his ancestors dominated American life.  But then, in the '60s, their fortunes began to fall.  As a young man, Tad noticed that his family tree, for all its glories, was full of alcoholics, depressives, and reckless eccentrics.  Yet his identity had already been shaped by the family's age-old traditions and expectations.  Part memoir, part family history, and part cultural study of the long swoon of the American Wasp, Cheerful Money is a captivating examination of a cultural crack-up and a man trying to escape its wreckage.
  • Little, Brown and Company
    • Format: Trade Paperback

    • Price: $14.99 US/$17.99 CAN

    • ISBN-13: 9780316003186

    • On Sale Date: 07/01/2010

    • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

    • Imprint: Back Bay Books

    Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Electronic Book

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Tad Friend's family is nothing if not illustrious: his father was president of Swarthmore College, and at Smith his mother came in second in a poetry contest judged by W.H. Auden--to Sylvia Plath.  For centuries, Wasps like his ancestors dominated American life.  But then, in the '60s, their fortunes began to fall.  As a young man, Tad noticed that his family tree, for all its glories, was full of alcoholics, depressives, and reckless eccentrics.  Yet his identity had already been shaped by the family's age-old traditions and expectations.  Part memoir, part family history, and part cultural study of the long swoon of the American Wasp, Cheerful Money is a captivating examination of a cultural crack-up and a man trying to escape its wreckage.

Tad Friend is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he writes the magazine's "Letter from California." Prior to that, he wrote regularly for Outside, New York, and Esquire, and wrote travel stories from all seven continents. He plays golf and squash and watches a lot of television. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Amanda Hesser, and their children, Walker and Addie.

  • Cheerful Money by Tad Friend

  • "Cheerful Money is side-splittingly funny and touching, without being the least predictable. It has the verve of Nick and Nora Charles with their silver martini shakers, and some insights mournful as Kafka's. This will become a classic." (author of Lit and The Liars' Club).

  • "In Tad Friend's stunning memoir about the lost world of the Wasp elite, the Hamptons' Georgica Pond comes to seem as Edenic as Thoreau's Walden. Friend animates a deeply private, aristocratic way of life with detailed, moving intimacy." 

  • "With its WASPish brew of aunts, alcoholics, and dashed promise (not to mention an assortment of Inkys, Wassas, Lettys, Goggys, and Hannys), Cheerful Money goes down like a bitter-sweet late-summer cocktail made with a jigger of Cheever and a splash of Wodehouse."

  • "A brilliantly braided book:  a hilarious coming-of-age memoir, a sharp stake through the zombie heart of the WASP ascendency, and the bravest work of filial love I've ever read." (author of Old Money: The Mythology of Wealth in America).

  • "Cheerful Money, by a self-stinging Wasp, is sharp as well as blunt about this problematic caste, but also rather proud of its salty aspects.  An insightful, highly humorous memoir, exceptionally well-written." (author of Shadow Country).

  • "The world laid bare here in Tad Friend's winning voice emerges from struggles he's waged in his heart.  Cheerful Money is a terrific memoir about the nuances of loss, wrenching revelations from a golden boy who has chosen to face the cost of a legacy of denial." (author of Random Family).

  • "Friend is a ruthlessly brilliant social taxidermist and a joyous chronicler of life's telling bric-a-brac. With compassion, humility, and wit, he transforms his exotically accomplished and eccentrically intelligent Wasp relatives into a winsomely flawed American Everyfamily." (author of The Effect of Living Backwards).

  • "Early on in Cheerful Money, Tad Friend writes, "Grievances in my family are like underground coal fires: hard to detect and nearly impossible to extinguish."  This fine memoir is about some of those grievances and also about the money, remorselessly leaking away, a circumstance that leads to the book's subtitle: The last days of Wasp splendor.  Read it also for high comedy and here and there a signature Waspish sting." (author of An Unfinished Season).

  • "Tad Friend's Cheerful Money graciously toasts the gilded dawn and twilight of Waspdom, viewing (with rather un-Waspy intimacy and forthrightness) its diminishing cachet and power through his own prestigious bloodline-rich with drunks, depressives, and loonies." (Vanity Fair Hot Type).

  • "Using cash as a "behavioral-management tool" is just one Wasp peccadillo that Friend nails in Cheerful Money, a suave, sharp-witted, generally intoxicating but occasionally sobering expose of his native culture. He notes that the acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, popularized in 1964 by sociologist E. Digby Baltzell, is both redundant and inexact, and he proceeds to delineate a more precise picture in his fond but probing personal history....  Friend is not the first to write about emotionally constipated ancestors, the waning of Wasp power or the painful erosion of beloved family holdings: George Howe Colt's The Big House springs to mind. But, drawn to "the ruinous romance of loss," Friend is one of the least whiny and most incisive insiders to chronicle this privileged world, and he does so with style and soul." (NPR).

  • "[T]ouching and poignant. At the beginning of the book, Friend writes, "I am a Wasp because I harbored a feeling of disconnection from my parents, as they had from their parents, and their parents had from their parents." Cheerful Money is Friend's funny and enlightening way of piecing together that disconnect." (BookPage).

  • "[A] splendid book....  Tad Friend does fall far enough from the tree to give us a delightfully rendered account of not only his self-discovery but an examination of "The Last Days of Wasp Splendor." It is gorgeously written....  Oh, reader, you are in for a treat." (San Francisco Chronicle).

  • "[I]n Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of WASP Splendor, author Tad Friend is able to paint a picture of the now-faded cultural elite of America with the delight and disgust that only an insider can.  Part memoir and part analysis, Friend shares the funny and occasionally heartbreaking stories of his life, family and friends just as the money is running out and prestige is waning....  He catalogs servants, summer homes and Shetland sweaters that define the culture. But more intriguing, he deftly captures the delightful torture of being raised in a culture of restraint....  Ultimately the book reflects on more than birthright, with his take on the influence of family, tradition and loss that shapes one's life." (Associated Press).

  • "[A] charming, informative, and moving report." (Boston Globe).

  • "WASPs' legendary courtesy is at the heart of Tad Friend's winsome memoir, which recounts, with amiable nostalgia, the foibles and predilections of a declining caste....  But Friend's book, "Cheerful Money," derives a good part of its fun from the more eccentric relatives who broke from traditional WASP patterns....  Friend, a staff writer at The New Yorker, is very good at cataloging the more salient WASP idiosyncrasies: the WASP "sprezzatura," as he calls it, which avoids any evidence of striving or seriousness because it would suggest "that you aren't yet at - haven't always been at - the top."" (New York Times Book Review).

  • "Mr. Friend has written an elegiac family history-cum-cultural taxonomy of a declining empire." (Wall Street Journal).

  • "Friend's talents are well suited to his material....  The tone he strikes is elegaic, even tender (at times) as he chronicles the futile pursuit of gracious living, now sinking into the "ruinous romance of loss."" (The Christian Science Monitor).

  • "Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor is taxonomy-as-memoir, an absolutely brilliant gift to the reader, wherein Friend essentially holds open the door to the exclusive club." (The Oregonian).

  • "Friend's memoir, called "Cheerful Money," is a droll, psychologically astute and sometimes nostalgic look backward at the WASP world that was....   Recognizing that it's his inherited duty to entertain and amuse his audience, even as he's occasionally serving up grisly confessions and nut-hard kernels of emotional truth." (NPR).

  • "American Wasps are now as rare as black truffles, and rarely has their story been told so candidly or entertainingly as it is in Tad Friend's wonderful new memoir, Cheerful Money....  Friend's book is such a winning family chronicle that the decline he describes is less a fall than an exhilarating ride, less sad than heartwarmingly comic." (Washington Post).

  • "Friend's recollections of WASP America in the throes of decline are frequently amusing, carefully modulated....Friend is one of those journalists with an admirable eye for the telling detail." (Los Angeles Times).

Formats

Product Details

Cheerful Money
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Price: $14.99 US/$17.99 CAN
  • Pages: 384
  • Physical Dimensions: 5-1/2" x 8-1/4"
  • ISBN-13: 9780316003186
  • On Sale Date: 07/01/2010
Cheerful Money