FAMILIES: A Memoir and a Celebration by Wyatt Cooper

FAMILIES: A Memoir and a Celebration

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fond, thoughtful remembrances of the author's sprawling, quarreling, loving Southern family. Cooper manages to avoid the sentimental effusions which usually accompany tales of those ritual clan gatherings at Grandma's house to which the womenfolk brought fried chicken, Virginia hams and blackberry pies. Married to artist Gloria Vanderbilt and the very caring and conscientious father of two young sons, Cooper rues ""today's claustrophobic units of two, three, or four persons who seem to have no outside kin and no antecedents,"" recalling how even the drunken uncles, bullying cousins and not-quite-right-in-the-head aunts among his relatives instilled in him a feeling for community, a sure knowledge that ""roots are a precious thing."" Somehow everyone from Mr. Raspberry who was married to Aunt Leila and given to Pentecostal frenzies to Granpa William Preston Cooper who dressed every day in a white linen suit and a Stetson and quite unabashedly exercised droit de seigneur prerogatives among his tenants, had a role and a function to fulfill. Now, even the rationale of marriage has changed and for the first time in history ""men and women have married for no purpose other than their own happiness."" Cooper writes with a great deal of sensitivity about the newer, more ambiguous sex roles and familial configurations; he certainly knows, with Thomas Wolfe, how much of the mythic journey home can never be recaptured. A quiet, gentle book about traditions and antagonisms passed on from father to son and how in this age of individualism and liberation we all live, for better or worse, in a constricted, diminished world.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row