Cheever, Marquand, O'Hara, and other Trad Books

ds23pallas

Senior Member
by Tad Friend,

This one just came out last year.

and

by Tom Lightfoot, edited by William C. Codington, American Blue Blood: The Challenge of Coming of Age in Upper-Class America

I know absolutely nothing about this book. It appears to be self-published.

Raincoat,

I have a copy of the "American Blue Blood" book somewhere. Not sure about it being self-published, or how I managed to get my hands on it if it was. If I recall correctly, it is the biographical story of a young college grad trying to make his way in the world. His is an old, wealthy Philadelphia family which provides little if any support to his efforts. Some aspects of the book I found somewhat interesting, but on the whole I would give it a pass.

I saw "Cheerful Money" soon after it was published, in a wonderful book shop in Concord, Massachussets last fall. I didn't buy it at the time, but may pick it up down the road.
 

TradMichael

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
All three of those books are good reads. MJB is tops ... the most important editor after Max Perkins.

Three biographies by Matthew J. Bruccoli:

The O'Hara Concern: A Biography of John O'Hara

James Gould Cozzens: A World Apart

Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald


Wish I'd known about these while I was on a book buying spree a few weeks ago. . . Had y'all heard of Matthew Bruccoli? I hadn't, though he appears to be well known, especially as a Fitzgerald biographer.
 

North Woods

Starting Member
I have read both...

by Tad Friend,

This one just came out last year.

and

by Tom Lightfoot, edited by William C. Codington, American Blue Blood: The Challenge of Coming of Age in Upper-Class America

I know absolutely nothing about this book. It appears to be self-published.

I read Tad Friend's book last fall and have just finished American Blue Blood. I definitely recommend the latter over the former. Tad writes for the New Yorker and is an excellent writer to be sure, but to quote a review on Amazon.com, his book is "too much Tad, not enough WASP." Meanwhile, American Blue Blood is the best novel I have seen about the decline and fall of upper class WASP splendor and hegemony during the last two decades of the 20th Century. A rightful successor to the stream of earlier books about the decline of the WASP by such authors as John Cheever, John P. Marquand, John O'Hara, etc.
 

The Rambler

Honors Member
Raincoat: I clicked on your Cavett link, skeptically, because I've always thought he was a twerp--but listening to Updike and Cheever brought tears to my eyes.
 

raincoat

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I read Tad Friend's book last fall and have just finished American Blue Blood. I definitely recommend the latter over the former. Tad writes for the New Yorker and is an excellent writer to be sure, but to quote a review on Amazon.com, his book is "too much Tad, not enough WASP." Meanwhile, American Blue Blood is the best novel I have seen about the decline and fall of upper class WASP splendor and hegemony during the last two decades of the 20th Century. A rightful successor to the stream of earlier books about the decline of the WASP by such authors as John Cheever, John P. Marquand, John O'Hara, etc.

That's extremely high praise for American Blue Blood. A rightful successor to Cheever, Marquand, O'Hara? As this is your first post I find it hard to believe that you're not in some way connected to the author. I'm sorry if I'm out of line in saying that. There are 5 glowing reviews of American Blue Blood on amazon that all read like advertisements. I doubt ds23pallas, or anyone for that matter, would be unable to recognize a Cheever/Marqand/O'Hara successor. Anyway I do plan on reading it.

As for Cheerful Money, if it's well written that's reason enough to read it. For another reason, it's on one of our favorite topics!


Rambler: Glad you enjoyed the Cheever/Updike Cavett interview, but it's Joe Beamish who should be thanked for pointing it out to us. But yeah, that's a great interview.
 

raincoat

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
More books:

by Whit Stillman, The Last Days of Disco, With Cocktails at Petrossian Afterwards

Love the movies! Really want to read this book.


by Nathaniel Burt, The Perennial Philadelphians: The Anatomy of an American Aristocracy


by Beth Gutcheon, The New Girls

Don't know about this one. It appears to fit the bill.


These two I've wanted for a while:

Tipsy in Madras: A Complete 80s Guide to Preppy Drinking

The Wasp Cookbook

They're both out of print and go for high prices. . .


For those interested in English mid-century U vs. Non-U, the classic:

by Nancy Mitford, Noblesse Oblige

I can't find a cheap copy of this either.
 

North Woods

Starting Member
That's extremely high praise for American Blue Blood. A rightful successor to Cheever, Marquand, O'Hara? As this is your first post I find it hard to believe that you're not in some way connected to the author. I'm sorry if I'm out of line in saying that. There are 5 glowing reviews of American Blue Blood on amazon that all read like advertisements. I doubt ds23pallas, or anyone for that matter, would be unable to recognize a Cheever/Marqand/O'Hara successor. Anyway I do plan on reading it.

As for Cheerful Money, if it's well written that's reason enough to read it. For another reason, it's on one of our favorite topics!


Rambler: Glad you enjoyed the Cheever/Updike Cavett interview, but it's Joe Beamish who should be thanked for pointing it out to us. But yeah, that's a great interview.

OK, maybe "Cheever/Marqand/O'Hara successor" is a little much. But here is what I am looking for: a novel that deals with the decline and fall of the upper class WASP in the Baby Boom era. Who has written on this subject the way Booth Tarkington did in his era (late 19th century), Marquand did in the 30's & 40's, O'Hara did then and later, Cheever did in the 60's, etc. There is no one who has written good fiction dealing with the decline and fall of upper class WASP splendor and hegemony in the Baby Boomer era. The only one I have found is American Blue Blood. Can anyone name some books? If not, there is an opportunity out there for someone.
 

Congresspark

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
A few relevant passages from Patrica Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley:

'I'll call you," Tom said. He felt he would faint if he stayed one minute longer in the dimly lighted foyer, but Mr. Greenleaf was chucking again, asking him if had read a certain book by Henry James.
'I'm sorry to say I haven't, sir, not that one,' Tom said.
'Well, no matter.' Mr. Greenleaf smiled.
Apparently, perhaps surprisingly, Mr. Greenleaf has read The Ambassadors.

The next day he took care of Mrs. Greenleaf's commissions at Brooks Brothers, the dozen pair of black woolen socks and the bathrobe. Mrs. Greenleaf had not suggested a color for the bathrobe.She would leave that up to him, she had said. Tom chose a dark maroon flannel with a navy-blue belt and lapels.It was not the best looking-robe of the lot, in Tom's opinion, but he felt that it was exactly what Richard would have chosen, and that Richard would be delighted with it. He put the socks and the robe on the Greenleaf's charge account. He saw a heavy linen sport shirt with wooden buttons that he liked very much, that would have been easy to put on the Greenleaf's account too, but he didn't. He bought it with his own money.
And:

"There were very few things that got under his skin, Tom thought self-justifyingly, but this was one of them: noisy surprises like this, the riffraff, the vulgarians, the slobs he thought he had left behind when he crossed the gangplank, littering the very stateroom where he was to spend the next five days!
Tom went over to Paul Hubbard, the only respectable person in the room...'Hello, Paul,' he said quietly. 'I'm sorry about all this.
She's very clever, Patricia Highsmith.
 
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phyrpowr

Honors Member
I read Tad Friend's book last fall and have just finished American Blue Blood. I definitely recommend the latter over the former. Tad writes for the New Yorker and is an excellent writer to be sure, but to quote a review on Amazon.com, his book is "too much Tad, not enough WASP." Meanwhile, American Blue Blood is the best novel I have seen about the decline and fall of upper class WASP splendor and hegemony during the last two decades of the 20th Century. A rightful successor to the stream of earlier books about the decline of the WASP by such authors as John Cheever, John P. Marquand, John O'Hara, etc.

Tom Wolfe, to some extent. Bonfire of the Vanities gets into the area of the "making money" vs. "having money" groups
 

Benson

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Seems I am in the minority regarding American Blue Blood but I found it a confused, inexpert piece of writing. The POV problems alone make one wonder why anyone continues to publish it at all.

Also, how is it that none of us has mentioned Digby Baltzell? Is he an assumed presence in this thread?
Benson
 

raincoat

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
By Michael Knox Beran, The Last Patrician: Bobby Kennedy and the End of American Aristocracy

I read this over a year ago and can only remember enjoying it, no details. I may have heard about it on this board actually. Anyway I was looking through some notes I had taken while reading it and found mention of Nelson Aldrich, Digby Baltzell, Marquand, Johnson's Stover at Yale, Averell Harriman, George Plimpton, John Lindsay, and it just goes on and on.

I can't reccomend enough the work of E. Digby Baltzell. He wrote about the American upper class from the guilded age to the 1960s and 1970s. He isn't as dense as other professional historians/sociologists. His stuff is great check out "sporting gentlemen" his history of Tennis.

He's been mentioned sort of indirectly twice so, yes, he seems to be an assumed presence. I also think this thread has been a little more fiction oriented. But you're right, he deserves more attention.

I think in other threads (too lazy to look right now) it has been argued whether or not he invented the term WASP with the consensus being: he certainly popularized it, but it may have been in some usage before. I haven't yet read anything by him but look forward to doing so.

And as for American Blue Blood, I suspected as much. I think you're in the minority having read American Blue Blood at all. Still plan on reading it though, if only for its subject.


Phyrpowr: Good call on Tom Wolfe. I thought North Woods assertion that
There is no one who has written good fiction dealing with the decline and fall of upper class WASP splendor and hegemony in the Baby Boomer era.
was absurd too.


Congresspark: Thanks for the Ripley quotes. I bought a copy of Ripley's Game last summer but never read it. Hopefully this summer I will.
 

The Rambler

Honors Member
I've read a few by Baltzell, and knew him a little. He was an academic, so you have to be prepared for appendices and footnotes: maybe doesn't really fit in with the broad group, he's a sociologist and social historian. But fun to read--I'd add Quaker Philadelphia and Puritan Boston (may have the title backward) which I think is profoudly true, though others hate.
 

Benson

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
And one can see why in the rather early going, but I thought it was being published by someone else now. The book is in my office so I'll check later today.

As for Baltzell, any number of his texts are worth reading, but The Protestant Establishment and Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia are particularly note-worthy.

Forgot to comment: I think it is self-published.
 

North Woods

Starting Member
Tom Wolfe, to some extent. Bonfire of the Vanities gets into the area of the "making money" vs. "having money" groups

Yes, I agree, Bonfire of the Vanities is probably the best fiction on the decline and fall of upper class hegemony and splendor in the last decades of the 20th century.
 

North Woods

Starting Member
Yes, I agree, Bonfire of the Vanities is probably the best fiction on the decline and fall of upper class hegemony and splendor in the last decades of the 20th century.

I have read all of Baltzell, and I do recommend him. Of course, the Philadelphia described in his books is no longer. Nevertheless, they are a fascinating look backwards. The decline and fall of upper class WASP hegemony is described well by Columbia University professor Warren Christopher in Crashing the Gates: The De-Wasping of America's Power Elite...lots of fun facts like: “though Episcopalians account for only 3% of the population, they supplied one-third of the chief executive officers of the nation’s 500 largest industrial corporations as recently as the 1950s.” An incredibly scrupulous accounting of the decline and fall of WASP hegemny is Berkley professor Jerome Karabel's The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton...100 pages of detailed footnotes that are worth reading but it will take you twice as long to read this tome. More controversial but very thought provoking is Harvard professor's Samuel P. Huntington's Who Are We?: The Challenges to America's National Identity.
 

Joe Beamish

Elite Member
Anyone looking for a specific theme or subject (e.g., rise and fall of blue bloods) is probably best served reading non-fiction. Fiction, I couldn't care less what the subject is. Just whether it's a great story written in a way that brings its own revelations. But then our education does tend to have us reading programmatically.
 

PJC in NoVa

Connoisseur
All three of those books are good reads. MJB is tops ... the most important editor after Max Perkins.

This gives me an opening to recommend A. Scott Berg's biography Max Perkins: An Editor of Genius (1978).

Matthew Bruccoli also put out a collection of MP's correspondence w/ Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. It's called The Sons of Maxwell Perkins.

I'm surprised that Louis Auchincloss's name hasn't come up on this thread yet.

There's book I came across decades ago in grad school that might be of interest to some. The tome is Edwin Harrison Cady's 1949 book The Gentleman in America: A Literary Study in American Culture.

https://www.questia.com/library/boo...n-american-culture-by-edwin-harrison-cady.jsp
 

raincoat

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
There's book I came across decades ago in grad school that might be of interest to some. The tome is Edwin Harrison Cady's 1949 book The Gentleman in America: A Literary Study in American Culture.

https://www.questia.com/library/boo...n-american-culture-by-edwin-harrison-cady.jsp

That looks really interesting.

I'm surprised that Louis Auchincloss's name hasn't come up on this thread yet.

Rector of Justin was mentioned in the first post of this thread (highly recommended to anyone who hasn't read it yet). He's written so much though. I picked up a collection containing three of his novels called Family Fortunes for cheap at Half Price Books some time ago. It includes The Rector of Justin, The House of Five Talents, and Portrait in Brownstone. I've also been wanting to read his short biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

Here's a recent (2008) article from The Washington Post on The Rector of Justin:
 

DCLawyer68

Super Member
That looks really interesting.



Rector of Justin was mentioned in the first post of this thread (highly recommended to anyone who hasn't read it yet). He's written so much though. I picked up a collection containing three of his novels called Family Fortunes for cheap at Half Price Books some time ago. It includes The Rector of Justin, The House of Five Talents, and Portrait in Brownstone. I've also been wanting to read his short biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

Here's a recent (2008) article from The Washington Post on The Rector of Justin:

His short bio of Woodrow Wilson is ever better - highly recommended.
 
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