A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage

Sally Ryder Brady, St. Martin's, $23.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-65416-0
"It's not hard to identify my emotions. What's hard is filling in the gaps of a forty-six-year love affair," confesses Brady (A Yankee Christmas series) in her account of life with longtime Atlantic Monthly Press editor-in-chief Upton Birnie Brady. In 1956, 17-year-old Ryder met Upton when he cut in on a dance at the annual Boston Cotillion. Feeling an immediate rapport with the dashing Harvard student ("our bodies fit, leg to leg, pelvis to pelvis"), she harbors hopes of meeting him again. They do, and in 1962, they marry. Soon after, Brady experiences Upton's spiraling anger and depression, and begins scavenging for insights into Upton's character (through Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited) and proof (e.g., a cassette of Everly Brothers songs). The shock of finding gay pornography in Upton's bedside table drawer, yields unexpected gifts along with pain. Readers will be captivated by Upton's ability to resuscitate a fading antique carpet with crayons; make elegant clothing for his wife (with whom he had four children); plan and execute formal dinner parties; and dance a hypnotic merengue. Diagnosed by his therapist with narcissistic personality disorder, Upton, in Brady's view, is both superhero and deeply flawed man; her memoir is as searing and tender as the life she describes. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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