2008: 122. Fathers and Sons

“I shall begin with a telephone call.  It was half past seven on the morning on 17 January 2001 - annus horribilis - when I was woken by ringing.”

Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family, Alexander Waugh

I am so glad that I enjoyed this book - I was starting to feel that I was too cranky to ever enjoy non-fiction again.  But this is a great book - one of the best I’ve read this year (and actually, I really liked Passionate Minds, too, so I guess it was just Salt - and the soon to be blogged Mistress of the Elgin Marbles, that I hated).  Anyway, this book is biography/memoir of a literary family - Alexander Waugh writes the story of his famous literary family.  He is a music/science writer, his father, Auberon Waugh was a famous cantankerous columnist in England, his grandfather, of course the famous novelist Evelyn Waugh.  Plus, his great uncle was a a novelist, Alec, and his great-grandfather Arthur was bathetic Victorian poet/writer.  That is interesting enough, to read about how they all became writers, but even more interesting is the relationships therein - they were all crazy, crazy fathers.  Arthur basically worshipped Alec to the point of creepiness and treated Evelyn like a second class citizen.  Evelyn showed little to no interest in Auberon.  Auberon was a pretty decent father - as far as stiff upper lip English go, and Alexander (our author) is trying his darndest to do better by his own sons.  


The book isn’t whiny or self-pitying - rather it is a crisp and witty account of a crazy family (the witty writing gene has definitely been passed from Evelyn down to his grandsons).  It read like the best fiction - smart, funny and even better, true.  If you like Waugh, or crazy families (and I like both), you’ll love this.


Date/Place Completed: 8/7/o8; D.C.

Categories: Non-Fiction, Evelyn Waugh Project 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017