Poor Little Rich Girl – “Dead End Gene Pool” by Wendy Burden

If you’re like me, and like your non-fiction to be about rich people behaving weirdly, you must read Wendy Burden’s “Dead End Gene Pool” immediately.

Burden, the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, grew up in a ridiculously rich manner.  Her society-clad Grandparents are cold people who care more about dinner parties than people, and her Mother is a sort of gorgeous monster who cares more about tanning than her kids.  (Her Mother also frequently forgets to wear clothes when Wendy’s friends are around.) Burden and her siblings are essentially raised by household staff.  Obsessed with Charles Addams (perhaps/probably as  result of her father’s suicide), Burden tries to turn herself into Wednesday Addams, talking and thinking non-stop about death and autopsies, and threatening at one point to cook her Hamster on the stove.

As she grows up, it grows weirder all around her.  If I say more, it’ll spoil the sheer craziness of it all. So I won’t.

Burden writes about her life with absolutely no sentimentality, but with a wicked sense of humor.  I’m sure the way she grew up had to leave scars, but instead of burying herself in her past, she’s exposing it – warts and all – and the effect is astounding.  Fiction writers would probably give appendages for a story like this, but in Burden’s hands it’s not glossed-over or glorified. It’s just her life, dude.

This is a book you have to read. It’s bizarre, and honest, and most of all – true.  Which may be the most bizarre thing of all.


About JamieP

Books. Adventures. Chicago. Married. Mommy. Cat.

Posted on April 27, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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