Uphill with Archie: a son's journey
Uphill with Archie is a beautifully written and deeply involving look at the life and the world of the great literary icon, poet Archibald MacLeish, by his youngest son. Partly an homage, partly an attempt to come to terms with the man (and the legend), Uphill with Archie speaks to all sons and daughters who have never completely resolved their feelings about powerful parents. Young William MacLeish grew up both captivated and cowed by the fame of a father who won Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry and comparable honors for his work as a lawyer, playwright, teacher, and government official. William's mother, Ada, began her marriage as a successful concert singer in Paris but later felt compelled to give up her art for her family. When Archie was working for Henry Luce and Fortune magazine, his younger children, watched over by a governess, stayed with their grandfather in Connecticut. But it is of the time spent with his family at Uphill Farm, a beautiful old house above a Massachusetts hilltown, that MacLeish has his fondest and most telling memories: "Archie and Ada gave me great gifts: music, the sound of the language beautifully spoken, the draw of knowledge, the arts of humor," William writes. "I learned to perform for them, and in time found myself addicted to getting a nice tan from Archie's sun. And the more I bathed in his light, the harder I found it to go looking for my own." At Uphill Farm, his parents often permitted William to join their friends in the fun. The boy quickly got used to acting the adult around the likes of Gerald and Sara Murphy, John and Katey Dos Passos, Carl Sandburg, Dean and Alice Acheson, and Felix Frankfurter. He reveled in the game -- until reality hit him, and he realized that he was the least of the company. Even then, he would continue to pretend, to adapt, to reach for attention. When he pressed too hard, Ada would send him to his room. In Uphill with Archie, William MacLeish paints an indelible portrait of a privileged world, a charmed existence in which he moved from pleasing his father to making his father proud. Affectionate, moving, and marvelously evocative, it is a book sure to appeal to readers of such classic works as Calvin Tompkins's Living Well Is the Best Revenge and Susan Cheever's books about her parents, Home Before Dark and Treetops.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Bill MacLeish is much too hard on himself, especially for someone who had already lived for nearly seventy years by the time he got around to writing this book, perhaps as a way of not just honoring his famous father, the poet Archibald MacLeish, but to exorcise some personal demons. The author, whose father lived to be nearly ninety, became so used to living in his father's shadow that he he had trouble recognizing his own not inconsiderable accomplishments. Indeed, even after Archie died, Bill felt guilty about inheriting his share of the family fortune, about being comfortably wealthy as a result. "Memoir writing," the author comments, "is better left to the accomplished masochist, which must the the one reason I have kept with it." He tells of "laughing, snorthing, cursing, and sobbing" as he worked at writing this book. As a memoirist myself, I must agree, but not completely. Because writing the kind of book MacLeish has written must, ultimately, help. If it didn't, then Bill MacLeish is definitely too hard on himself. Because this is a beautiful book - both as a tribute to his father, whom he obviously loved very much and, later in life, even got to tell him so, something many adult sons never quite get around to doing, much to their everlasting regret. Having said all these things, I have to confess that it took me more than a hundred pages to really get into this memoir, mostly because there was - at least from my point of view - way too much family history here, particularly about earlier generations of MacLeishes. I only began to get interested when Bill MacLeish began to tell more about his own life. Because, while I know who Archibald MacLeish was, and even studied some of his poems and plays in college oh so many years ago, I really remember almost nothing of them now. Which is not what his son wants to hear, I know, but there it is. Bill M quotes Shelley's "Ozymandias" at the end of his narrative, in talking about the fleetingness of fame and fortune, so I think he will understand. He spent many years trying to figure out what to do with his life, noting that his father and brother, Ken, were the writers in the family, and apparently didn't feel he could ever possibly compare - or compete. The fact is though Bill MacLeish is one hell of a good writer. And there was one line toward the end of the book that really made me chuckle, because it's indicative of what all serious writers do, and shows how preoccupied they can become when they are in the throes of writing something - "When I'm in the middle of my writing, I can walk right past Elizabeth [his wife] and not see her. This riles her, as does my penchant for letting my attention sag in mid-conversation while the writing mind nibbles, like the mice in our walls, on bits of sentences." Bingo! Bill MacLeish. You are a writer and you always have been, and UPHILL WITH ARCHIE is a damn fine piece of work. I wish you well, and thank you for writing not just your father's story, but your own.
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Not just a biography of Archibald MacLeish by his youngest son. MacLeish was a poet and was chosen by Roosevelt to become the Librarian of the Library of Congress.
Bookreporter.com - UPHILL WITH ARCHIE by William H. macleish
UPHILL WITH ARCHIE: A Son's Journey William H. macleish Simon & Schuster Memoir ISBN: 0684824957. "God's will in the world if we could learn it, ...
www.bookreporter.com/ reviews/ 0684824957.asp
The Father Thing
I n the autumn of 1981, when Archibald macleish was nearly 90 and in the last year of his life, and his son William was 54, there was a moment when they ...
www.nytimes.com/ books/ 01/ 03/ 04/ reviews/ 010304.04trippt.html
Growing Up at the Library (July/August 2001) - Library of Congress ...
... (1939-44) recently returned to Washington, where he had spent his formative years, to discuss his new memoir, Uphill with Archie: A Son's Journey.
www.loc.gov/ loc/ lcib/ 01078/ beyond_macleish.html
ARCHIBALD MACLEISH: Man of many occupations
ARCHIBALD MACLEISH: Man of many occupations. Archibald macleish was a man of many occupations. He was a: teacher, lawyer, poet, journalist, playwright, ...
www2.hawaii.edu/ ~wertheim/ amacleish.html
Interview: Bill macleish discusses his new book "Uphill
Interview: Bill macleish discusses his new book "Uphill with Archie" about his father, polymath Archibald macleish. From: All Things Considered (NPR) ...
www.encyclopedia.com/ doc/ 1P1-42414754.html
Edward A. Goedeken - The Literature of American Library History ...
Greenwood Press, 2001); and William H. macleish, Uphill with Archie: A Son's Journey (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001). ...
muse.jhu.edu/ journals/ libraries_and_culture/ v039/ 39.2goedeken.html