Fiction Ruined My Family (Paperback)

By Jeanne Darst

Riverhead Books, 9781594486173, 320pp.

Publication Date: November 6, 2012



"Beautifully paced . . . heartbreaking and hilarious."--USA Today
Augusten Burroughs meets Mary Karr: a deeply funny and wickedly entertaining family memoir.

The youngest of four daughters in an old, celebrated St. Louis family-- of prominent journalists and politicians on one side, debutantes and equestrians on the other-- Jeanne Darst grew up hearing stories of past grandeur. And the message she internalized as a young girl was clear: While things might be a bit tight for us right now, it's only temporary. Soon her father would sell the Great American Novel and reclaim the family's former glory.
The Darsts move from St. Louis to New York, and Jeanne's father writes one novel, then another, which don't find publishers. This, combined with her mother's burgeoning alcoholism, lead to financial disaster and divorce. And as Jeanne becomes an adult, she is horrified to discover that she is not only a drinker like her mother, but a writer like her father. At first, and for years, she embraces both activities-- and until she can stop putting drinking and writing ahead of everything else, it's a questionable choice.
Ultimately, Darst sets out to discover whether a person can have the writing without the ruin, whether it's possible to be both sober and creative, ambitious and happy, a professional author and a parent. Filled with brilliantly flawed, idiosyncratic characters and punctuated by Darst's irreverent eye for absurdity, Fiction Ruined My Family is a lovingly told, wickedly funny portrait of an unconventional life.

About the Author

Jeanne Darst is a writer/performer who has written for The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, and performed her solo plays in bars, barns, and living rooms across the country. An excerpt from this book on aired on This American Life. She lives in Los Angeles.