AUTO DA FAY by Fay Weldon


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An acerbic and affectionate memoir from the prolific novelist, satirist, short-story writer, playwright, essayist, and chronicler par excellence of the war between the sexes.

Weldon (Rhode Island Blues, 2000, etc.) was born in 1931 and speedily given the name Franklin Birkinshaw, which caused some initial confusion for teachers and bureaucrats. Soon her parents were calling her Fay, though, and she went through a couple of other married names (Davies, Bateman) before marrying Ron Weldon in the early 1960s. She grew up in New Zealand. Her physician father left home for another woman, and her mother took a variety of jobs (including novelist) to keep herself and two daughters alive. Young Fay was a voracious reader (she broke the code at age three) and survived childhood bouts of polio, sibling rivalry, brainless and humorless teachers, and crushes on classmates, mostly other girls. After a variety of family crises and an unexpected inheritance right out of Dickens, the Weldon women moved in the late 1940s to England, where Fay continued her schooling and began to think about being a writer. By 1952 she had an MA in economics and psychology; thereafter she held so many jobs that a list of them could form a sort of Yellow Pages of failure. She wrote ads for eggs, bras, and hair conditioner. She wrote the pilot for Upstairs, Downstairs but was fired, she claims, when the producers decided they wanted to dull the edge of her satiric blade. She experimented sexually, found many men wanting, found herself pregnant, and made a number of other mistakes with a potpourri of inappropriate partners, the most bizarre of whom was Husband #2, who eschewed sex and opined that many married couples had no sexual relations. Amusingly, Weldon writes about herself in the third person in these passages.

Fact or fiction, Weldon still draws blood with her biting prose.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-8021-1750-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003


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