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The Memory of All That

George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family’s Legacy of Infidelities

Katharine Weber
For more information visit www.KatharineWeber.com.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. The subtitle of The Memory of All That is “George Sidney Kaufman would feel about this book?
Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family’s Legacy of
Infidelities.” What does it mean to have a legacy of 8. Why do you think Kay Swift wanted all their letters
infidelities? destroyed after George Gershwin’s death?

2. What are some of the other infidelities, beyond the 9. If George Gershwin had not died at age 38 in 1937,
romance between Kay Swift and George Gershwin, in how might Weber’s life have been different? Would it
Weber’s family history? have been different?

3. Are there any relationships in her family that are not 10. Weber’s family tree has branches that hold a range of
defined in some way by an act of infidelity? Who in disparate characters, from Benedict Arnold and Kay
this story is capable of loyalty and fidelity? Swift to Aby Warburg and Sidney Kaufman. Are
there members of her family whose stories remind
4. The FBI considered the author’s father, Sidney you of your own family history? Do you think having
Kaufman, to be unfaithful to the United States of a place on this family tree is a gift or a burden?
America. Was this a valid suspicion? What was the
effect of their decades of surveillance? 11. Is this book a typical memoir? What did Weber
choose not to write about?
5. How do you think Weber’s own marriage has been
affected by her family’s history? 12. Are there incidents or details in The Memory of
All That which might have inspired elements in
6. Library Journal, while calling the book “a thoroughly any of Weber’s five novels?
engaging family memoir,” said: “The lack of
faithfulness in family relations, sexual and otherwise, 13. How do family stories shape us? Why do some
was a source of pain that Weber strove for years to families honor their own histories while other
overcome—apparently successfully.” Do you agree? families are indifferent to the past? Do certain
Why do you think she didn’t write about this groups of people care about family history more
directly? than others?

7. How would family members described in the 14. If you could meet any of the cast of characters in The
book have told their stories? How do you think Memory of All That, who would it be?

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.