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The Memory of All That by Katharine Weber - Reader's Guide

The Memory of All That by Katharine Weber - Reader's Guide

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2.87

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The Memory of All That is Katharine Weber’s memoir of her extraordinary family.

Her maternal grandmother, Kay Swift, was known both for her own music (she was the first woman to compose the score to a hit Broadway show, Fine and Dandy) and for her ten-year romance with George Gershwin. Their love affair began during Swift’s marriage to James Paul Warburg, the multitalented banker and economist who advised (and feuded with) FDR. Weber creates an intriguing and intimate group portrait of the renowned Warburg family, from her great-great-uncle, the eccentric art historian Aby Warburg, whose madness inspired modern theories of iconography, to her great-grandfather Paul M. Warburg, the architect of the Federal Reserve System whose unheeded warnings about the stock-market crash of 1929 made him “the Cassandra of Wall Street.”

As she throws new light on her beloved grandmother’s life and many amours, Weber also considers the role the psychoanalyst Gregory Zilboorg played in her family history, along with the ways the Warburg family has been as celebrated for its accomplishments as it has been vilified over the years by countless conspiracy theorists (from Henry Ford to Louis Farrakhan), who labeled Paul Warburg the ringleader of the so-called international Jewish banking conspiracy.

Her mother, Andrea Swift Warburg, married Sidney Kaufman, but their unlikely union, Weber believes, was a direct consequence of George Gershwin’s looming presence in the Warburg family. A notorious womanizer, Weber’s father was a peripatetic filmmaker who made propaganda and training films for the OSS during World War II before producing the first movie with smells, the regrettable flop that was AromaRama. He was as much an enigma to his daughter as he was to the FBI, which had him under surveillance for more than forty years, and even noted Katharine’s birth in a memo to J. Edgar Hoover.

Colorful, evocative, insightful, and very funny, The Memory of All That is an enthralling look at a tremendously influential—and highly eccentric—family, as well as a consideration of how their stories, with their myriad layers of truth and fiction, have both provoked and influenced one of our most prodigiously gifted writers.

To read more about The Memory of All That or Katharine Weber please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.
The Memory of All That is Katharine Weber’s memoir of her extraordinary family.

Her maternal grandmother, Kay Swift, was known both for her own music (she was the first woman to compose the score to a hit Broadway show, Fine and Dandy) and for her ten-year romance with George Gershwin. Their love affair began during Swift’s marriage to James Paul Warburg, the multitalented banker and economist who advised (and feuded with) FDR. Weber creates an intriguing and intimate group portrait of the renowned Warburg family, from her great-great-uncle, the eccentric art historian Aby Warburg, whose madness inspired modern theories of iconography, to her great-grandfather Paul M. Warburg, the architect of the Federal Reserve System whose unheeded warnings about the stock-market crash of 1929 made him “the Cassandra of Wall Street.”

As she throws new light on her beloved grandmother’s life and many amours, Weber also considers the role the psychoanalyst Gregory Zilboorg played in her family history, along with the ways the Warburg family has been as celebrated for its accomplishments as it has been vilified over the years by countless conspiracy theorists (from Henry Ford to Louis Farrakhan), who labeled Paul Warburg the ringleader of the so-called international Jewish banking conspiracy.

Her mother, Andrea Swift Warburg, married Sidney Kaufman, but their unlikely union, Weber believes, was a direct consequence of George Gershwin’s looming presence in the Warburg family. A notorious womanizer, Weber’s father was a peripatetic filmmaker who made propaganda and training films for the OSS during World War II before producing the first movie with smells, the regrettable flop that was AromaRama. He was as much an enigma to his daughter as he was to the FBI, which had him under surveillance for more than forty years, and even noted Katharine’s birth in a memo to J. Edgar Hoover.

Colorful, evocative, insightful, and very funny, The Memory of All That is an enthralling look at a tremendously influential—and highly eccentric—family, as well as a consideration of how their stories, with their myriad layers of truth and fiction, have both provoked and influenced one of our most prodigiously gifted writers.

To read more about The Memory of All That or Katharine Weber please visit Crown Publishing Group at www.crownpublishing.com.

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Publish date: Jul 19, 2011
Added to Scribd: Jul 05, 2011
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1.Thesubtitleof
The Memory of All That 
is“GeorgeGershwin,KaySwift,andMyFamilysLegacyofIndelities.”Whatdoesitmeantohavealegacyofindelities?2.Whataresomeoftheotherindelities,beyondtheromancebetweenKaySwiftandGeorgeGershwin,inWebersfamilyhistory?3.Arethereanyrelationshipsinherfamilythatarenotdenedinsomewaybyanactofindelity?Whointhisstoryiscapableofloyaltyanddelity?4.TheFBIconsideredtheauthor’sfather,SidneyKaufman,tobeunfaithfultotheUnitedStatesofAmerica.Wasthisavalidsuspicion?Whatwastheeffectoftheirdecadesofsurveillance?5.HowdoyouthinkWebersownmarriagehasbeenaffectedbyherfamilyshistory?6.
Library Journal 
,whilecallingthebook“athoroughlyengagingfamilymemoir,”said:“Thelackoffaithfulnessinfamilyrelations,sexualandotherwise,wasasourceofpainthatWeberstroveforyearstoovercome—apparentlysuccessfully.”Doyouagree?Whydoyouthinkshedidntwriteaboutthisdirectly?7.Howwouldfamilymembersdescribedinthebookhavetoldtheirstories?HowdoyouthinkSidneyKaufmanwouldfeelaboutthisbook?8.WhydoyouthinkKaySwiftwantedalltheirlettersdestroyedafterGeorgeGershwinsdeath?9.IfGeorgeGershwinhadnotdiedatage38in1937,howmightWeber’slifehavebeendifferent?Wouldithavebeendifferent?10.Weber’sfamilytreehasbranchesthatholdarangeofdisparatecharacters,fromBenedictArnoldandKaySwifttoAbyWarburgandSidneyKaufman.Aretheremembersofherfamilywhosestoriesremindyouofyourownfamilyhistory?Doyouthinkhavingaplaceonthisfamilytreeisagiftoraburden?11.Isthisbookatypicalmemoir?WhatdidWeberchoosenottowriteabout?12.Arethereincidentsordetailsin
The Memory of   All That 
whichmighthaveinspiredelementsinanyofWebersvenovels?13.Howdofamilystoriesshapeus?Whydosomefamilieshonortheirownhistorieswhileotherfamiliesareindifferenttothepast?Docertaingroupsofpeoplecareaboutfamilyhistorymorethanothers?14.Ifyoucouldmeetanyofthecastofcharactersin
The  Memory of All That 
,whowoulditbe?
 
For more information visit www.KatharineWeber.com.
 
TheMemoryofAllThat
GeorgeGershwin,KaySwift,andMyFamily’sLegacyofIndelities
KatharineWeber
Reading group guide for
The Memory of All That 
by Katharine Weber. Copyright © 2011 by the Crown Publishing Group. Distributed by permission of the Crown Publishing Group, a divi-sion of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this reading group guide may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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yukon92 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Knowing nothing about Kay Swift and only the bare minimum about George Gershwin, this book was quite informative for me. However, I had a tough time trying to keep up with the other assorted family members of the author. It was strange that she would write at first about her father and then eventually make it back to Kay Swift and George Gershwin. My husband, who grew up in NYC and knows a lot more about these people also found that strange. Somehow it seems backwards
jeanomario reviewed this
Rated 2/5
This book was a challenge and a chore to finish. I typically enjoy memoirs, but this seemed a dramatization of family dysfunction and less about the relationship between Gershwin and Swift. Additionally, the writing style was disjointed and the name-dropping was tedious. Should a reader in the 21st century know social figures of the 20's, 30's & 40's? Even the title falls into pretentious name-dropping, as George Gershwin is a minor character in the overall memoir.
bbellthom reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This book wasn't my favorite but it was ok. It tells an interesting story about a truly fascinating family and all their dysfunctions but there are so many references to different people that the reader gets lost in the who's who.I would have enjoyed this book more if there wasn't so many people mentioned and there was more written about the main characters.
ellenh_28 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This was a librarything giveaway. Katharine Weber does a good job putting together the eccentric,
janiereader reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I love to read biographies of dysfunctional families, and this is one dysfunctional bunch! The book started out with Katherine Weber's memories with her father and quickly branched out to other members of her family. I have to admit looking up photos of quite of few of the cast of characters and using IMDB.com to look up others. While parts of the book were quite interesting, others seem longed and drawn out. The pages of her father's FBI files seemed endless, and others just seemed to be edited. But yet parts of the story were wonderful. The "aromarama" anecdote was quite hilarious, and I wonder what her father, Sidney Kaufman, would have thought about the use of smells at Disney World and the lot now. Aromarama, was a method her father was involved with whereas smells would be paired in key scenes of a movie to add to the viewer experience, for example someone would peel an orange and an orange smell would be piped into the theater. But alas, the results were not what they expected. And I thought this was a new thing! One more note, I was completely confused at who was who, and the family tree at the front wasn't much help. All-in-all a pretty interesting read but one where I wish I knew the characters better, since I would have enjoyed it a bit more.
mzkat reviewed this
Katherine Weber has written several novels, including one titled Objects in Mirror are Closer Than They Appear. This title’s reference to illusion and true or false appearance could be said to foreshadow her family memoir where childhood perceptions are gradually refined by time to reveal another reality. Weber’s father was a man who lived life on his terms, with minimal attention to the needs of his own undemanding, child-like wife and children, including Weber. Comfortable leading a double life which included other women and long absences, Sidney Kaufman was self-centered and willing to cut off anyone, including his own young daughter, who crossed him in ways often unknown to them, His business was movie production, but his projects failed more than succeeded. He conducted his life as if it were a movie production, complete with cost overruns, theatrical showdowns, and a preference for artifice rather than humdrum routines.As Weber explores her father’s past, she discovers that in addition to his unfaithfulness to his family, the FBI followed him for years, though never bringing charges against him. His associations were suspicious during that time , including the period of the Hollywood blacklist, but charges were never filed against him. That story in and of itself could be fascinating in a memoir, but it is just the beginning. Weber’s mother comes from a wealthy family, the Warburgs, famous for their prominence as bankers and their political ties to Roosevelt. These are the same Warburgs whom conspiracy fans cite when raging against the IMF. When someone mentions to Weber that she should look into the story of her maternal grandmother’s relationship with George Gershwin, the story veers from following the already attention-grabbing story about her parents to that of her grandparents, but particularly that of her maternal grandmother, Kay Weber.Named after this grandmother, Weber grew up adoring this woman who lavished love and attention of the Auntie Mame sort. In other words, this was no ordinary grandmother making pies and babysitting, but a creative woman who played the piano and sang, invented her own words to describe things, and enchanted children and adults alike with joie de vivre.Weber’s mother grew up knowing Gershwin who was always around. This, Weber knew. What she did not know was that her grandmother, while still married to Weber’s grandfather, had an affair of many years with Gershwin. No short-lived affair, Kay Weber and George Gershwin ‘s relationship lasted for years until Gershwin relocated from New York to California and died shortly therafter. Her family’s story takes on a richer hue as other fascinating characters and historical anecdotes weave in and out. Oscar Levant, Vernon Duke, David Siqueiros, among others are walk-ons. One particular character, Dr. Zilbourg, was the psychoanalyst to Kay Weber, George Gershwin, and others in their social circle, often playing one against the other by divulging information learned in sessions and sleeping with his patients. On top of that, Weber discovers his analyst credentials were bogus. There are countless sidebar stories. Here’s one. Key Weber and George Gershwin may have been the inspirational couple for George and Marian Kirby in Topper. Read the book to get the details.Lovers of Gershwin and this incomparable time in New York’s cultural history will be unable to resist this story. Too bad it didn’t come with a soundtrack of Gershwin"s and Weber’s music (yes, she was a composer, too). Never mind. On its own, Weber’s story ‘s wonderful ‘s marvelous!
bacreads reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This book mainly disappointed me but I found some of the information interesting. The first 122 pages were uninteresting and disjointed. I kept wondering when the author was going to get to Gershwin and why I cared about her childhood and father. I also thought that Weber “whined” a lot. Poor me that my father wasn’t always around and my mother wasn’t the best, or at least what she wanted her to be. (I would suggest she look at memoirs like The Glass Castle or Angela’s Ashes for people who didn’t have parents with good parenting skills.) And then she also “whined” because there was little inheritance because of her grandmother’s divorce settlement, and hoped that Angela would leave her daughters something even though the communication between her and Angela and Weber’s father was very limited. She even admits to being glad to have the excuse of a new baby to not visit her father when he was dying.I have always been a big Gershwin fan and I liked reading about him and Kay Swift. I must admit to not knowing about Ms Swift and this book has encouraged me to learn more about her as a composer. There were many times when Weber made excuses for happening, just not believing it could be so. She had correspondence from her grandmother’s friend but she did not seem to have much more outside information to rely on and then just excerpts from other sources. I am not sure I would have finished the book if I had not received it as an Early Review. It was disjointed, difficult to follow and with many characters that seemed to have little to do with George Gershwin and/or Kay Swift and if there was a thread of connection it was very tenuous. The few pages on Joseph Swift are an example of stretching why Kay might have done something. At the end of the book, my thought was that I really didn’t care about any of the characters and it had done very little to enrich my life and gave me only a slight bit of information I might find useful.I rated it 3 stars for the small amount of information on Gershwin and Swift’s musical career.
dulcibelle reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I like memoirs/biographies. And, I liked this one. It gave an interesting look at what life was like in the 1920's, 1930's, and 1940's for those who ran with the Broadway and songwriter crowd. But, because of the title, I expected to learn a lot more about George Gershwin from this. Gershwin actually plays a rather small part in the total book.Except for that disappointment, I did really enjoy this book. It was fun reading about the eccentricities of the author's family.
sdmtngirl reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I had never read a title by Katharine Weber and immediately enjoyed her way with words, and yet the title was misleading as it was more about the family dysfunction than the relationship between Gershwin and Swift. Weber's description of the people involved within the 30's, 40's and 50's time frame was interesting but some of the facts didn't ring true for the lack of information (i.e., destruction of memorabilia per Swift's request).It was easy to read but not one I wanted to pick up and finish.
fjumonvi reviewed this
Rated 3/5
There is no denying that author Katharine Weber came from an extraordinary family. As a group, they seem to have possessed more than their share of wealth, talent, and a penchant for infidelity. Much of the well-written, engaging narrative emphasizes Weber's father, Sidney Kaufman, an unreliable dreamer who hovered on the fringe of the motion picture industry, full of grand plans that never came to fruition. The remainder focuses on Kay Swift, the author's maternal grandmother, a gifted musician and composer of songs that have become standards. Torn between her love for her husband and her love for George Gershwin, she lost them both.There is less about Gershwin than the subtitle suggests, but considering that he wasn't actually part of the family, it is not surprising that he does not figure prominently in the narrative. His fans may be most interested in recent, little-publicized speculation concerning the probable cause of the great composer's death.The Memory of All That is entertaining, but I am not likely to read it again. It renewed my gratitude for my ordinary, celebrity-free, faithful family, and it reminded me that the memoir genre is not one I truly enjoy.

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