NO LAUGHING MATTER: The Autobiography of a WASP by Margaret Halsey

NO LAUGHING MATTER: The Autobiography of a WASP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Margaret Halsey's seventh book appears when she is 67, after not only those other six books, but: two husbands, two ""lame duck"" lovers, and three psychoanalysts. Her life, here recounted, has been shaped not so much by her WASP background as by the fact that she wrote a best-selling, big-money book when she was 28, and has never been able to repeat the feat. (She would say: ""recapture that first fine feckless rapture""). With Malice Towards Some was extraordinarily successful in 1938, one of the first commercially advertised, bestselling Books-of-the-Month. Nothing in her small-bourgeois background (a suburb of Yonkers) had prepared her for all this money and fame. But her limp title reflects the fact that Robert Benchley-Helen Hokinson-style humor was destroyed by war and the bomb at Hiroshima. Her subtitle is more complicated. She spoke out bravely in the Fifties, in books whose names proclaim their tone--Some of My Best Friends Are Soldiers, Color Blind; she hated Joe McCarthy and Nixon from their starts. She demonstrates in this book the WASP virtues (if such they be) of fortitude and determination--as in overcoming her alcoholism without the aid of drugs or doctors--but a lack of their mates: prudence, honest craftiness. She is such a virtuous woman indeed that one wishes she had thrown out the clichÉs along with the bottle. A curiosity, this book, a footnote to the troubled period that surrounded our last ""good"" war.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1977