WHAT SHALL WE WEAR TO THIS PARTY? by Sloan Wilson

WHAT SHALL WE WEAR TO THIS PARTY?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit Twenty Years Before and After Twenty years after his first appearance Wilson brings back the unobtrusive gray-suited man-this time not Thomas Rath but the author himself, who unbuttons discreetly in this long-drawn-out and rather humdrum biography. The Seventies are an apt time to rehabilitate The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit, with his lukewarm passions, rigid morality, and unabashed pursuit of money and ""security."" Wilson scans his life going back to the adolescent years when he grew up rich in the Depression; the WW II naval career (the ultimate test of manhood, ""the war burned itself into my memory""); the first marriage to Elsie which lacked ""excitement"" but persisted for twenty years; the delayed initiation into extramarital affairs; and finally the happy marriage to second wife Betty. Once a gray-suited man, always a gray-suited man--sartorial styles may have changed but Wilson is describing a condition of the only slightly atrophied soul. Then as now he was ""an almost completely apolitical animal""; the world of business too ""bored me."" There is irony in the fact that Wilson's parents, both writers and ""flaming liberals,"" raised their son with the injunction that ""the main thing for you to remember is that money isn't really very important""--a lesson that didn't take. Mutatis mutandis, he is frank about the fact that ""the only real meaning I have found in life has been in my wife and children""--that, and a kind of prosaic decency, carry him through.

Pub Date: May 28th, 1976
Publisher: Arbor House