I went to the bookstore, to get a book on Nicaragua–the place I’m pretty much set on going after this project is over. It’s close and the trip overall will be inexpensive. The other countries I considered (New Zealand, Japan, Peru, Chile) had roundtrip flights that cost well over $1,000. Blame it on summer and high season. Nicaragua is up-and-coming, the new Costa Rica, but not as touristy. Few people speak English. I’m told conversational Spanish is essential…so I’ve brought out my Spanish CDs and books. Keep in mind, I took French in high school; I do not know Spanish–even as a native Californian. I’m on a serious mission!
I didn’t find a good travel guide on Nicaragua. Instead, I picked up Sean Wilsey’s autobiography Oh the Glory of It All. I’ve been wanting to read it. The writer Sean Wilsey is popular among the San Francisco literary crowd and friends with Dave Eggers who wrote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Wilsey’s book has been the talk of the town since he openly talks about growing up among the San Francisco glitterati: his mother (a socialite and political activist), his father (a shrewd businessman), his stepmother (great granddaughter of the founder of Dow Chemical), and Danielle Steel (famed romance writer and one of his father’s lovers). He likens his life to Falcon Crest and Dallas. I picked the book up and kept reading and reading until one of the bookstore attendants told me the store was closing. I was already on page 50. I forced myself not to buy it; I already had enough reading material at home. I put the book down and left. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Today, I went to Borders to find a Nicaragua travel guide. So far, it was eluding me. It still did when I got to Borders. I picked Wilsey’s autobiography back up where I had left off yesterday. I sat in a chair and did not move until I had finished it. All 500 pages of it. It’s a typical poor little rich boy story of betrayal. But the book is riveting in its storytelling, characterization, and humor. The plot centers around his mother’s best friend who stole his father, then twisted her way into becoming the sole heir to his fortune. Sidenote: this is the same woman who single-handedly led the campaign to rebuild the De Young Museum. Love ’em or hate ’em, these people are the movers and shakers of the city.
All of it seems so unreal: the money, the homes, the jewelry, the galas, the dresses, the infidelity. Everyone was sleeping with everyone! But at the same time, there were certain moments that resonated with me. Sean describes a time when he had come home from a friend’s house and declared to his mom, “My friends’ moms cook dinner. Why don’t you cook dinner?”
His mom retorts, “Yes, dear, but I write books. They cook meals. They don’t write books like I do.” And I cringed because I could totally see myself saying that to my kid! I’d better not have kids!!!
I even related to his cheating scoundrel of a father when his father told him, “Your mother didn’t love me the way I needed to be loved.” Ouch! I hope I get that squared away if I get married because I sure as hell don’t want my husband running around with my best friend. Thank God a couple of my best friends are gay.
Sean Wilsey’s memoir is one of the best I have read. I do read a lot but it’s been a long time since I became so engrossed in a book that I continued to read until I was done. I highly recommend it.