Dead End Gene     Pool

In Wendy Burden's Dead End Gene Pool (Gotham Books, Apr.), the author—and great-great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt—was six years old when her father committed suicide. Her mother, aloof and self-centered, excelled in her pursuit of the perfect tan, keeping her cocktail glass full and discovering an assortment of lovers. Wendy and her brothers were left in the care of nannies, servants, and their august Vanderbilt grandparents. This upbringing—or lack thereof—produced a very funny young lady who longed to pursue a career in mortuary science and who revered anything by Charles Addams. Wendy's story of growing up in an enormously moneyed, brainy, and alcoholic family is at the same time one of the saddest and funniest memoirs I've ever read. In our store, I predict that this Gene Pool will be the hit of our summer season, and we'll sell it with a money-back guarantee.