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Fiction Ruined My Family

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  1,044 Ratings  ·  208 Reviews
The youngest of four daughters in an old, celebrated St. Louis family of prominent journalists and politicians on one side, debutante balls and equestrian trophies on the other, Jeanne Darst grew up hearing stories of past grandeur. And as a young girl, the message she internalized was clear: while things might be a bit tight for us right now, it's only temporary. Soon her ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Riverhead (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 05, 2012 Raquel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, march
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dani Peloquin
Aug 22, 2011 Dani Peloquin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me just say it, I hate memoirs. I really truly do. I have read enough stories about how someone painted themselves green for a year and journaled about it, I have worked my way through stories about abusive families and drunken childhoods, I have found no interest in true tales of cooking one’s way through divorce. Overall, I am not the memoir type. It is for this reason that I have NO idea why I requested to read this book. When it arrived on my doorstep I took one look at it and thought “d ...more
I hate to do this. I really do. Especially considering that by giving this book a rating, I feel as if I am rating the person, even though that is not what I am doing. I have to give this memoir a two star review.

What attracted me to the memoir at first was the description. Who wouldn't enjoy a deeply witty book about drinking, demons, family dysfunction and the all encompassing writing bug? However, once I started to read the book, I saw that this book wasn't deeply witty, it was deeply sad.

Apr 19, 2012 Erik rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This memoir was truly funny at times, but overall I found myself just wishing that I could finish it so I could move on to another book that I could enjoy more. Perhaps my review is also tempered by the comparisons I kept making to this and Jenny Lawson's book "Let's Pretend That This Never Happened," which I liked much more.
Oct 22, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ladies-writin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Harvey
May 13, 2012 Sarah Harvey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Ultimately annoying. Started off well but became really really tiresome. Has been compared to Running With Scissors and The Glass Castle. Pales in comparison to both.
once again, i wish goodreads gave us the option of half-stars. because i think this is on the cusp between three & four stars. it is extremely flawed, but also very entertaining. though i am of course biased because i enjoy memoirs.

darst's memoir is admittedly pretty thin on material. she is the youngest daughter of a pair of st. louis alcoholics. her mother was a wealthy child equestrian who seemed to think the gravy train would never stop, even if she married a bumbling, alcoholic, peripat
One of the very best I've read this year. This gem easily trounces other author-is-crazy-but-funny-alcoholic memoirs. I laughed, I cried--I came close to doing both at the same time.

Summary (from Goodreads): The youngest of four daughters in an old, celebrated St. Louis family of prominent journalists and politicians on one side, debutante balls and equestrian trophies on the other, Jeanne Darst grew up hearing stories of past grandeur. And as a young girl, the message she internalized was clea
Jan 26, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, 2013
Funny, bittersweet memoir written by a woman who grew up with a failed writer father and a blueblood alcoholic mother. She really does a sendup of what it’s like to be the child of a writer and all the little “quirks” that entails. This, along with her parents’ privileged upbringings, makes it unlike other “we had it rough” memoirs.

The author herself is both these things, a failed (at first) writer and an alcoholic, and I loved the point she made about how she was almost competing with her paren
Jul 07, 2011 Missy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir made me......sad.

I went to school with these girls, one of them was in my class. It is funny, because looking back, I had Jeanne and her family pegged as the typical Bronxville NY family, well-to-do, without a care in the world. I had no idea what she and her siblings were dealing with.

Just goes to show you that you may think someone else's life is all sunshine and rainbows....when in reality, it's not.

I think Jeanne Darst is a brave soul for writing this took a lot of c
Matt Weber
Aug 02, 2012 Matt Weber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fiction Ruined My Family is the best memoir I've read in years. I thoroughly enjoyed the quality of the writing and the stories. It is ridiculously witty, stark, and honest. So much so that some parts made me laugh until it hurt while other parts made me uncomfortable to have a glimpse into the author’s colorful and oftentimes riotous life. I can’t relate to the author’s family experiences, but the writing is so good that I could picture the stories perfectly. The author is able to move emotions ...more
Dec 08, 2011 Janet rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-books-read
It is a popular literary device these days to make light of your horrific childhood, blame everything on your parents, and then congratulate yourself for turning out ok (Jeannette Walls, Augusten Burroughs, etc.). Unfortunately, finding that kernel of redemption in this pile of crap is pretty near impossible.
Tina Humphrey
Apr 10, 2013 Tina Humphrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An AMAZING memoir. Some seriously stunning lines...
Kevin Farrell
Oct 12, 2011 Kevin Farrell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good God, why 5 stars? Cause I really like it, and if you don't like that you can just wipe your A$$ with it.

That is the type of irreverant prose that graces the pages of this book. Jeanne Darst is funny (to me but not to my wife, Amy). The best that I can describe her, Darst is like Erma Bombeck with a really foul mouth.

Here is the summary. Jeanne is one of four daughters. Her Dad has spent his whole life trying to write the great american novel while effectively dodging any meaningful employme
Nov 22, 2011 Meghan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, addiction
"My whole life had felt like a good story - something in which I participated in order to create something that could be used for conversation later." (p. 224) Black humor - bleak humor? - about a genteel family descending into poverty. Jeanne's father is a writer who can never quite finish a novel, as her mother gradually becomes an alcoholic fixated on her glory days as a debutante. Out of all of her siblings, Jeanne takes after both of her parents the most.

Darst writes a lot about the import
Sara Furr
I really wanted to like this book. I'd read a few glowing reviews. I made it through the first 58 pages even though they were a bit tedious with a fair amount of crude language and references thrown in for no apparent purpose. But then I read the first sentence on p. 59, "Mom's Summa Cum Laude routine got a little old after a few hundred mentions, and she'd never really had a job." This is a writer referring to the mother who appears to be the sole person responsible for paying the few bills whi ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Eris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After blowing through this book quickly, I am surprised to see so many low ratings - different drums I suppose.

This book does have the train wreck combination of dysfunctional family memoir, addiction memoir, and "finding myself" memoir all wrapped into one - but by the end you find a person who really does seem to figure out who they are and make peace with it all. There is very little pretty or uplifting, this isn't the great conquering all odds memoir that some folks may have wanted to see...
Aug 07, 2012 Greta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I read the who-o-o-o-le thing. I kept wanting to quit but there was just enough to keep me going since the father of the author was a complete romantic bibliophile, living his life as if it were an extension of his favorite fiction. I have a soft spot for people like that since my own father had a similar bent. The difference: my father was gainfully employed as an English professor and wasn't an alcoholic.

Through the author's eyes we witness the descent of both her parents, but
Noel Rooks
Oct 24, 2011 Noel Rooks rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Darst's book is another in a long line of , "look at my crazy childhood/life/career choices" memoirs. Quite often I found her annoying, with her insistence that One Has to Suffer For Art. At 20, it's understandable. At 30, you're just avoiding growing up. In any case, I kept reading because Darst does make her crazy family interesting, the passages on her dad's Fitzgerald obsession in particular. I also liked her snarky POV, but sometimes the story was disjointed - she'd mention someone by first ...more
Jodi Sh.
May 07, 2012 Jodi Sh. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I only buy books that I've read and have changed my life, or by people that make me want to find them, stalk them and hang out with them. I read a library copy of Fiction Ruined My Family after seeing it recommended via Flavorpill's listicle "10 of the Most Hilarious Memoirs You'll Ever Read" (of which I have now read all but the graphic novel and the Sedaris & now I have to go out and buy my own. Wonderful memoir about what it's like to grow up with colorful parents, afraid you'll become ...more
Jan 05, 2012 Carrol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a bad read, but I'm tempted to say if you've read one story of a dysfunctional family you've read them all. Maybe that's not fair. In this case, the author's dad was always writing the great American novel but never getting it finished, though he had been published in magazines such as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, etc. Meanwhile, the mother was drinking herself into oblivion and trying to maintain the fiction that the family moved in the "better" echelons of society. The auth ...more
Heather Nichol
Jul 31, 2011 Heather Nichol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads and I'm very sorry it took me far too long to read it. My taking so long to read this book was in no way a reflection on the quality of the book or the author's writing. It's simply a reflection of my busy schedule and the mounds, and mounds of books I have yet to read.

That being said, I really liked this book. Jeanne is hilarious and I really enjoyed reading about her life. Her writing style is fantastic. For the first time, I read a
Zac Chase
Dec 30, 2011 Zac Chase rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darst moves fluidly from the comic to the tragic and back again. Opposing pages regularly brought out opposing emotions.
She details life growing up with three sisters, a non-writing writer father and a alcoholic-depressive mother with wit and honesty. It's clear at several points Darst's humor is the well-developed defense mechanism one often finds in the children of alcoholics. Appropriate to the book, I found myself darkly grateful at that humor's refinement.
I read the book in one sitting and
I really wanted to like this book, but I had a hard time getting through it. I found the writing disconnected and choppy. In the beginning of the memoir, the family members seemed like caricatures: the frustrated, idealistic writer; the socially prominent, disappointed, alcoholic mother. The daughters were described in very broad brush strokes until about 3/4 of the way through the memoir. The last third of the memoir did engage me,and the episodes and writing did improve near the end. I probabl ...more
Oct 23, 2011 Nette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing I like better than a smart, funny writer with a big, crazy family and absolutely no feelings of entitlement or self-pity. (Or shame: not many ladies would admit to accidentally giving family members pubic lice, or pooping into a plastic bag.) She also has a wonderfully twisty prose style, a unique way of fashioning a sentence. A few lucky friends will be receiving this for Christmas this year.
Dec 14, 2011 Rozanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about this book is the title, even though the title is misleading. Her family wasn't ruined. She's just a spoiled brat who is annoyed because she maybe didn't get everything she felt she was entitled to in life. She has a very narrow view of society and her place in it. Most irksome--she's isn't a very good writer and is extremely derivative and superficial. Her dad sounds just like David Sedaris's dad. How did that happen, I wonder?
Aug 10, 2011 Luann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
The humor got old before I was half way through this book -- but I held on because I did think Darst was a good writer and I kept hoping for more. The last third of the book was more satisfying, more meaningfully personal, less sarcastic and striving to be funny. Overall, I was disappointed. Something about it felt less than honest, not dishonest about what happened but dishonest in how she feels about it. And the self-absorption really got to be too much.

Ryan Mishap
Funny on a "This American Life" sardonic white person level, this begins shaking out as just another dysfunctional family breeds irresponsible kid who gets it together and uses literature as a hook for us to buy her crappy book.

I normally avoid these memoirs from people who haven't reached middle age yet but the book had a raven on the cover!
Sep 21, 2014 Miranda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fiction Ruined My FamilyJeanne DarstI love this book. It's funny, unsentimental and whip-smart.
Any memoir in which the writer gives her own sister crabs is OK in my book. PLEASE READ TO FIND OUT MORE.
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“And yes, the Hemingways, the Fitzgeralds, the Faulkners and the Capotes. Drank while writing. Drink next to the typewriter. But the longer I lived in Brooklyn, the more writers I met, and I guess I was just too drunk to put it together before but now I realized about half of them were sober. So you could be a writer and be sober. Very interesting” 2 likes
“My dad doesn't have an iota of the depressive in him. He just depresses other people. Nothing brings him down. But this can't be true. I think it just comes out when absolutely no one else is around. It always seemed that while I knew he loved us a lot, my father actually needed nothing to be happy except books. There was enough in literature to challenge, entertain, amuse and inspire a man for a lifetime. Books and music were simply enough to sustain anyone was what he radiated. Humor, love, tragedy, it was all contained therein. And if all he needed was books, then he probably wouldn't mind if he lost the house and the wife and the whole life. Because the story was more important than the family. The story being that he was going to write the Great American Novel and finally be important, and in being important, he would be loved. Willing to lose his family to be loved by his family. Oh, the tragic blunder of this. It could almost drive someone mad. Wait, it did drive someone mad.” 0 likes
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