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The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  144 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
The Memory of All That is Katharine Weber’s memoir of her extraordinary family. 

Her maternal grandmother, Kay Swift, was known both for her own music (she was the first woman to compose the score to a hit Broadway show, Fine and Dandy) and for her ten-year romance with George Gershwin. Their love affair began during Swift’s marriage to James Paul Warburg, the multitalented
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Rating details
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Oct 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to skein by: thank you, K.
Shelves: 3-star, 2011
What is the proper way to review a memoir? Does the author get points for suffering in new ways, or bringing a new understanding of the old ways of suffering - , or or or -

I'm obsessed with personal history. If you don't have it, make it up. This is what Weber does - except the lies - this is what I understand: we speak our past over and over to try and understand it, not just our past but everyone's, and whatever memory of that coming through is criss-crossed with blotches and lost names, lost
Jul 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this book having read only 93 pages and then gave up in disgust. What started out to be promising didn't come across that way. The author spends way too much time talking about her father who was a louse in both parenting and being a husband. She name drops continuously which get old.
Another book bites the dust.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Oct 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book somewhat diverting, but for the most part it was a disappointment for me. I'm not sure if one can totally blame the author - it is marketed as if the main focus is on George Gershwin and Kay Swift, but their affair is not a big part of the book. Moreover, the author - Kay Swift's granddaughter - doesn't really know much about it. I would entitle this book more accurately as: "A Memoir About Me and My Family, Many of Whom Were Rich and Famous and Therefore You Probably Heard of ...more
Aug 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This book mainly disappointed me but I found some of the information interesting. The first 122 pages were uninteresting and disjointed. I kept wondering when the author was going to get to Gershwin and why I cared about her childhood and father. I also thought that Weber “whined” a lot. Poor me that my father wasn’t always around and my mother wasn’t the best, or at least what she wanted her to be. (I would suggest she look at memoirs like The Glass Castle or Angela’s Ashes for people who didn’ ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family's Legacy of Infidelities by Katharine Weber is a family memoir. Weber is the granddaughter of Broadway composer Kay Swift, who was married to banker James Warburg. She had a affair with George Gershwin for ten years. Her mother, Andrea Warburg, married Sidney Kaufman, who was notoriously unfaithful to her. The FBI also kept extensive files on Kaufman. Weber describes her very dysfunctional family, and along the way name-drops a wh ...more
May 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Got this as a free book from Goodreads...and I am glad I did not pay for it.

This book piqued my interest because I have had a fascination with Gershwin's music since a small child and own almost every single recorded song of his including his "Piano Rolls". I am also an old movie and Broadway buff and so the idea that there was someone who had inspired him and was somewhat successful in her own right intrigued me.

I have to say that I was greatly disappointed in the first half (approximately 125
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, memoirs-bio
The Memory of All That by Katherine Weber was disappointing. It was really split into two stories.

The first half was about Katherine's childhood and her family and the second half was about the long affair (ten years) that her grandmother, Kay Swift had with George Gershwin.

My main criticism is not about the morality of her relatives, I figure she is just telling what happened, but the lack of editing. There were times that the book just told too much about her family. So much so that it got to
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is proof that gossipy and highbrow are not mutually exclusive terms. I love it when you can immerse yourself in scandal and not come away feeling dirty (hence my addiction to Downtown Abbey) and this memoir fulfills that for me (an affectionate remembrance of grandma's extramarital affair? Count me in!). Although there are plenty of descriptions of Nick-and-Nora-esque parties (when it comes to the author's grandparents' generation, not so much her own folks), it's not all champagne and ...more
John Otto
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Katharine Weber is a good writer and her family has plenty of interesting stories. My problem with the book has more to do with the editing and marketing. The title implies that the book is primarily about George Gershwin and Kay Swift. But the first half is almost all about her dastardly father who would disappear from her family for long periods of time and who she says was a liar, a con man and a serial philanderer. The worst thing is he stopped speaking to her after she told her mother, at h ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Memory of All That was a disappointment though part of the problem might have been my expectation that it was about George Gershwin and his relationship with the family. I should have read the part of the cover mentioning "My family's legacy of infidelities."
The author's parents were incompetent (to put it very mildly). She spent 78 pages mostly complaining about her father and his infidelities, broken promises, and failures, and many complaining about her mother. Repeatedly. Repititiously.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I love to read biographies of dysfunctional families, and this is one dysfunctional bunch! The book started out with Katherine Weber's memories with her father and quickly branched out to other members of her family. I have to admit looking up photos of quite of few of the cast of characters and using to look up others. While parts of the book were quite interesting, others seem longed and drawn out.

The pages of her father's FBI files seemed endless, and others just seemed to be edited
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sull by: Library find
A wild crazy book about an astonishingly dysfunctional family whose members broke all the rules. KW's dad was a minor monster of ego, a truly nightmare father & husband, but her mother wasn't much better, simultaneously timid, overwhelmed & finally semi-neglectful of her only child.

The family history doesn't get better till the author turns her laser-eye on her grandmother's generation. Then things get interesting. Her grandparents were celebrities way before modern celebrity culture was
Jul 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiographical
I enjoyed this book most when Weber was reflecting on her own personal experiences of being raised in a dysfunctional family and the saving grace of her relationship with her grandmother, Kay Swift. That aspect of the book brought home the fact that people tend to reveal different aspects of themselves in the context of different relationships and experiences. Weber's mother did not enjoy the support that her own daughter found in her relationship with her mother, yet it was a powerful correctiv ...more
Gabi Coatsworth
This is a tough book to classify. Memoir or biography? Both. The first half deals with Katharine Weber's relationship with her elusive yet fame-seeking father, and so may be called a memoir. The second half is more of a biography of her grandmother. So if you've ever wanted to mix and mingle with the high society of the 30's and 40's here's your chance. Katharine Weber's family had connections to many of the rich and famous, and her grandmother, Kay Swift, had a 10-year romance with George Gersh ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

I find The Memory of All That to have been extremely well-written and quite dark. It illuminates the lives of two very creative individuals in the 20s and 30s, with reference to their immigrant heritage, and the glamorous world of Broadway at that time.

The dark element refers to familial disfunction, and I believe it would be fair to saw that Katharine Weber is such an excellent author, that I for one felt the pain of her experience keen
Sharon Archer
This had a number of fasinating ancedotes, from how a bug got into the American Embassy in USSR to how the Chinese put bands around the necks of cormorants and steal the fish they catch to the story of who came up with the white line on the right side of the highway...
But it wasn't enough to save this memoir about her priviliged, self-absorbed and selfish family. Almost half the book was a rant against her remarkably awful father, it could have been 20 pages. The only bright spot was the end of
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a librarything giveaway. Katharine Weber does a good job putting together the story of her eccentric, influential, and complicated family. I had trouble keeping the family tree and all of their social connections straight, and often referred to her illustrated tree in the beginning, so had to take some breaks from it, but did end up liking it quite well. But what a life! She is careful in her telling of the infidelites, intrigues and wonderful talents of these relatives, and how this wo ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting hybrid of memoir and good family dish, very bittersweet and often funny. It works on many levels, but a certain tenderness comes through always, and I found the book not only wry and gossipy and smart but ultimately really touching. Families are all odd when you pull back and look at them, and I very much enjoyed this glimpse into a very complex and vibrant set of family dynamics. Well done.
Thank you Goodreads First Reads for this free book I received through their giveaway.
I am giving this book 3 stars when I really wanted to give it 2-1/2. There were spots in the book where it was boring, especially hearing the rhetoric of who was blacklisted, communist or a spy back in the day when that was the norm. I found the numerous people, dates and the timeline hard to follow. But overall it wasn't a bad read. Some parts were more enjoyable than others.
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Memoir detaling author's father's many extramarital affairs and her grandmother's affiar with George Gershwin. the author can really turn a phrase, so the bok has its moments - but it feels disorganized and full of characters who are namedropped into the story without much explanation.the interconnections between the two parts of the story are sometimes confusing.
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ill-chcpl
Dishy memoir by granddaughter of Kay Swift who was the first woman to write a complete Broadway musical Fine and Dandy. She also had an affair with George Gershwin and may have been the love of his life. The book starts with the author's reminisces of her father who had numerous affairs while married to her mother. Loved recognizing names of people in the periphery of the author's life.
Debbie Maskus
This is an interesting book about many of the movers and shakers of the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. I thoroughly enjoyed the opening scene of a daughter and father swimming in the ocean, and the feeling of uncertainty on the part of the daughter. Many of the scenes convey the emotions of a young girl and her feelings of insecurity. This is an enjoyable book.
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing. Seemed like the author needed to put in writing her family's background as part of some therapy for her own issues. The order was all over and very confusing and i can't say I got anything out of it.
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess the author is mildly famous as is her family. I thought from the excerpt I read that it was going to be an interesting memoir. It's actually a not very conclusive memoir for half the book and then switches to a not terribly interesting family history.
Terry Murray
The first part of the book, about Weber's father, was, unexpectedly, more interesting than the section about her aunt Kay Swift. Not as well written as other books by Weber, and suffered a bit from a lack of or inadequate copy editing.
May 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this in a Goodreads giveaway. Interesting memoir about a VERY dysfunctional family. Details Kay Swift, Broadway composer, and her extramarital affair with George Gershwin.
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gershwin was a shit for such a talented man.
Cindy Macbeth
May 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't care for the book it was a struggle to get through it.
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read. Author gives an interesting account of her grandparents past leading up to her grandmothers' affair with George Gershwin
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Katharine Weber’s fiction debut in print, the short story "Friend of the Family," appeared in The New Yorker in January, 1993.

Her first novel, Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear (of which that story was a chapter), was published by Crown Publishers, Inc. in 1995 and was published in paperback by Picador in 1996. She was named by Granta to the controversial list of 50 Best Young America
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