The splendid things we planned by Blake Bailey

This is a memoir about two brothers, sons of a talented lawyer and German mother, raised in Oklahoma.  Both were attractive and smart, Scott, the oldest, a little more handsome, and Blake, a little smarter.  By high school, their golden lives are starting to tarnish. Both are into alcohol and drugs, the parents are divorcing and each son tries to be the favorite of both parents. The father remarries and leaves no “home” for the brothers. The fraternal rivalry continues, fueled by drugs and Scott becomes a danger to himself and others.  (Just when you think nothing worse can happen to Scott, it does.) But the amazing thing is the parents never can fully give up on their son. And however pained Blake is by his brother’s life, there is a part of him that rejoices in being the survivor.

It sounds hard to read (it is) but it was so fascinating I couldn’t stop. Somehow Blake lifts himself out of it. He manages to graduate, teach and become a respected writer (biographies of Cheever and Yates and is working on an Updike).

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