Excerpt from Oh The Glory Of It All by Sean Wilsey, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Oh The Glory Of It All

by Sean Wilsey

Oh The Glory Of It All
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  • First Published:
    May 2005, 480 pages
    Apr 2006, 496 pages

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Prologue: Excess!

Part One: Useless Emotion

One: Mom
Two: Divorce
Three: Dad
Four: Dad and Dede
Five: Dede
Six: Every Other Week
Seven: Peace
Eight: Dad's House

Part Two: Useless Education

Nine: St. Mark's
Ten: Woodhall
Eleven: Skateboarding
Twelve: Sex
Thirteen: Cascade

Part Three: Repetition
Fourteen: Destruction
Fifteen: Corruption
Sixteen: Redemption

Part Four: Resolution
Seventeen: Butter
Eighteen: Scraped Over Too Much Bread


IN THE BEGINNING we were happy. And we were always excessive. So in the beginning we were happy to excess.

WE WERE MOM and Dad and I—three palindromes!—and we lived eight hundred feet in the air above San Francisco; an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill: full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills.

Mom was the center. Mom was irresistible. Whatever she was saying or wearing or smelling of was captivating—all our senses were attuned to her. As soon as I was old enough to walk I tried on her shoes and evening gowns and perfume, admired and wanted to be like her, so much that they had me seeing a shrink by the time I was three. The shrink said I needed to spend more time with my dad. But how? Mom was irresistible.

Mom had published two books—one about throwing parties, one about battling malevolent ghosts—and was working on a third, about her childhood in Texas and Oklahoma.

As far as I could tell Dad's job was to please Mom. He was solicitous and full of care. He gave Mom everything she wanted. He helped her want things she did not know to want.

Early every morning, Mom, Dad, and I took walks around Russian Hill in matching blue jumpsuits with white piping, Royal Tenenbaums–style.

ONE SUNDAY, on a shrink-mandated father-and-son outing, Dad took me across the bay on the ferry, re-creating the commute he made as a boy, before the Golden Gate Bridge was completed, from Catholic school in San Francisco to his home in Marin. Halfway there it started to rain, and we didn't have any umbrellas, so when we arrived we stood in a doorway near the water.

Dad hadn't shaved since Friday morning before work, and he looked rough. Even I could see it. Our matching jumpsuits were sad without Mom. Dad lit a cigarette. We looked out at the water.

A man with a box and an umbrella strode past, glanced at us, stopped fifty feet on, turned, walked back, and handed the box to Dad.

"I can't give you anything else," he said. "But take this."

From Oh The Glory Of It All by Sean Wilsey. Copyright 2005 Sean Wilsey. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, The Penguin Press.

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