Friday, October 23, 2009

'Cheerful Money'

So, I was prompted to buy a book after hearing a review of it last week on NPR. New Yorker writer Tad Friend has written a family memoir, Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor. I had heard about this book, through the blog world in fact, and was highly intrigued by the title. There seems to be a lot of fascination with WASPs in our society, and I guess of late it’s because they’re a shrinking group, thus there’s a certain mystique about them; we’re on the outside looking in.

I certainly am not a WASP (For the record, it stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I’ve actually encountered people who don’t realize it’s an acronym. Yes, really.) No, being of Irish-German-Catholic descent, I’m too much of a mutt for that group. Not a pure-bred in any way. And, I’m fine with that. My family didn’t come over on the Mayflower. They’re not direct descendents of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. (Although my husband is, but he’s Catholic too, so his family must have gotten lost along the way. :)

But, something I do appreciate about old-school WASPs is that they never talk about money. It’s considered crass. You just don’t do that. Today’s nouveau riche can’t stop talking about money. They tell you how much they paid for everything. Constantly. They share way too much information. Heck, many star in reality shows. Bravo’s “Real Housewives” series is a testament to new money and its gross displays of wealth. Blech.

So, why did I order Tad Friend’s book? First of all, I liked critic Maureen Corrigan’s review and the focus on a different era, a time of romance and a more civilized way of life (for some at least), a view that F. Scott Fitzgerald often took in his works. In The Great Gatsby, Daisy was the WASP, Gatsby the mutt, and he tried so hard to achieve that elusive lifestyle. But even with all of his new money, he would never be “of that class” because he was not to-the-manner-born. Poor Jay Gatsby.

So, if you’re looking for a good read, check out “Cheerful Money.” I can’t wait until my copy arrives.


QueenBeeSwain said...

Oxiewe're of the same breeding (tongue in cheek here ;)) and you are so right about money and how certain people feel the need to go on and on about it- crass is the perfect word!

happy weekend and I am going to have to pick this book up now that you've given it a thumbs up!



preppyinnewengland said...

This is a great post! Thanks for the suggestion. I will look for this indeed!
Thank you for the tag but I was tagged 10/12 and posted along with award!
I haven't been able to blog at all this week.
Cathing up with all this weekend.
Have a good one!

EntertainingMom said...

This old english-scottish-russian-german jewish girl was brought up on what is considered WASPY behaviour... we NEVER talked about money. I never knew anything (still don't) about my parents' financial situation whereas my husband knows all about his parents'... gaudy in my opinion and of no business of the children. I remember in the day (1980s) when designers were putting their names all over their clothing -- on the outside, as opposed to the insides for the first time -- my mother would say to me "You wear your name or your initials and not someone else's on your clothes." This was not welcome news to pre-teeny-bopper me who wanted everytihng Calvin, Jordache and Gloria (I mean, she was a Vanderbuilt after all!!!!)

I take huge issue with new and showy $$$... and I have that book by my bed too!

CRICKET said...

I love reading, so I will check this one out. It seems like the word WASP is o.k. to use in some parts of the country, I grew up where it was not PC.

JMW said...

Cricket, I, too, recall when calling someone a WASP wasn't considered a compliment. And, perhaps that's still the case in a lot of places. I think a younger generation is interchanging it with "preppy" and not realizing that history behind the term.

Jo said...

You've got my attention ~ I'll be looking into this as well! Being Italian Catholic, I don't really fit the description but I have to agree with Cricket ~ we weren't allowed to use that word growing up. For the longest time I didn't know what it meant, just that I wasn't allowed to say it.

I work with someone that I not longer give compliments to solely for the fact that if I do, she will go into every detail of where she got the clothing item, how much it cost, her husband will have a fit when he sees the bill and on and on. If she compliments me it's always followed with ... where did you get it and how much did it cost. UGH!

plaisirs simples said...

i'm SO into this book too! i've read about it through the blog world also and am dying to read it. the wasp world IS really fascinating!!

Tickled Pink And Green said...

There are some great quotes in that book about Wasps and such. Really enjoyed it.

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