Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


This is simply the perfect book to pick up when you want a guaranteed
“good read.”
Wendy is the epitome of a wonderful storyteller, and it’s all in her
genes; the Vanderbilt genes that is. As the great, great, great, great
granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, one would expect a wealth of
historical information, and one would not be disappointed. One would
also expect a certain sense of propriety…but one would be mistaken.
Wendy shoots straight from the hip in what could be a bitter,
self-aggrandizing memoir. It is anything but.
It may be strange, but I laughed out-loud at the same time that my heart
ached for a little girl surrounded by self-medicating alcoholics so
insulated by their wealth that they could not connect with the rest of
the world. It is a stunning memoir filled with honesty, pain, but most
of all, humor. As Emily Sailers said, “You have to laugh at yourself
sometimes. You’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.”

— Jessilynn

July 2011 Indie Next List


“Burden's memoir of her branch of the family descended from Cornelius Vanderbilt is a delightful cautionary tale of the super rich who inherit a large fortune. The family's unraveling, erratic behavior and eccentricities make up a morbidly fascinating story.”
— Avery Dickey, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

March 2010 Indie Next List


“Burden's memoir of her branch of the family descended from Cornelius Vanderbilt is a delightful cautionary tale of the super rich who inherit a large fortune. The family's unraveling, erratic behavior, and eccentricities make up a morbidly fascinating story.”
— Avery Dickey, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

Description


In the tradition of Sean Wilsey's "Oh The Glory of It All" and Augusten Burrough's "Running With Scissors," the great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt gives readers a grand tour of the world of wealth and WASPish peculiarity, in her irreverent and darkly humorous memoir.
For generations the Burdens were one of the wealthiest families in New York, thanks to the inherited fortune of Cornelius "The Commodore" Vanderbilt. By 1955, the year of Wendy's birth, the Burden's had become a clan of overfunded, quirky and brainy, steadfastly chauvinistic, and ultimately doomed bluebloods on the verge of financial and moral decline-and were rarely seen not holding a drink. In "Dead End Gene Pool," Wendy invites readers to meet her tragically flawed family, including an uncle with a fondness for Hitler, a grandfather who believes you can never have enough household staff, and a remarkably flatulent grandmother.
At the heart of the story is Wendy's glamorous and aloof mother who, after her husband's suicide, travels the world in search of the perfect sea and ski tan, leaving her three children in the care of a chain- smoking Scottish nanny, Fifth Avenue grandparents, and an assorted cast of long-suffering household servants (who Wendy and her brothers love to terrorize). Rife with humor, heartbreak, family intrigue, and booze, "Dead End Gene Pool" offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of old money and gives truth to an old maxim: The rich are different.

About the Author


Wendy Burden is a confirmed New Yorker who, to her constant surprise, lives in Portland, Oregon. She is the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, which qualifies her to comment freely on the downward spiral of blue blood families. She has worked as an illustrator, a zookeeper, and a taxidermist; and as an art director for a pornographic magazine from which she was fired for being too tasteful. She was also the owner and chef of a small French restaurant, Chez Wendy. She has yet to attend mortuary school, but is planning on it.

Praise For…


"In this dark and humorous memoir Wendy Burden takes us inside the family circus that was her side of the Vanderbilt dynasty, bringing American class structure, sibling rivalry and the decline of the bluebloods vividly to life. It is a wonderful read."
-Gus Van Sant

"Charles Addams meets Carrie Bradshaw in this honest, sardonic, and touching memoir. Burden's tale makes for riveting and often hilarious reading."
-Jane Stanton Hitchcock, New York Times bestselling author of Social Crimes and Mortal Friends

Product Details
ISBN: 9781592405268
Publisher: Gotham
Publication Date: April 1st, 2010
Pages: 288

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