In the author's words. ""This book is autobiographical in inspiration, but it is not an autobiography"" and it deals for the most part with his youth and his particularly intense relationship with his ambitions and remarkable mother. Mme. Kacew literally lived for, and created, her son. She was a flamboyant dreamer; he was all she had; and her determination to show the world, through him, often took the form of wildest fantasy. He was to be a French ambassador, a musician, a famous writer. Meanwhile she just barely supported them both, in Russian and Poland, by dressmaking, and later in France by odd jobs. However the fervor and flavor of her ambition never wavered. In their moments of affluence, the boy was given a gentleman's training in books, dancing, fencing, and was stuffed with tales of his mother's favorite heroes. All this weight of what was expected of him had some curious and perhaps and effects on boy and man, as Gary confesses. But he became much of what she had hoped- her ""happy ending"": a daring aviator, awarded the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor; a writer who was awarded the Prix Concourt; and now, the French Consul-General in Los Angeles... This book is a tribute, filled with admiration and sometimes flecked with guilt, to a remarkable woman and a fascinating character, and in its frank, absorbed analysis of an extreme mother-love is revelatory but not always comfortable.