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Running with Scissors meets Grey Gardens in this gripping, true riches-to-rags tale of a wealthy family who lost it all and the unforgettable journey of a man coming to terms with his family’s deep flaws and his own long-buried truths. “Wake up, you filthy beasts!” Wendy Hamill would shout to her children in the mornings before school. Startled from their dreams, Kirk and Running with Scissors meets Grey Gardens in this gripping, true riches-to-rags tale of a wealthy family who lost it all and the unforgettable journey of a man coming to terms with his family’s deep flaws and his own long-buried truths. “Wake up, you filthy beasts!” Wendy Hamill would shout to her children in the mornings before school. Startled from their dreams, Kirk and his two brothers couldn’t help but wonder—would they find enough food in the house for breakfast? Following a rancorous split from New York’s upper-class society, newly divorced Wendy and her three sons are exiled from the East Coast elite circle. Wendy’s middle son, Kirk, is eight when she moves the family to her native Bermuda, leaving the three young boys to fend for themselves as she chases after the highs of her old life: alcohol, a wealthy new suitor, and other indulgences. After eventually leaving his mother’s dysfunctional orbit for college in New Orleans, Kirk begins to realize how different his family and upbringing is from that of his friends and peers. Split between extreme privilege—early years living in luxury on his family’s private compound—and bare survival—rationing food and water during the height of his mother’s alcoholism—Kirk is used to keeping up appearances and burying his inconvenient truths from the world, until he’s eighteen and falls in love for the first time. A fascinating window into the life of extreme privilege and a powerful story of self-acceptance, Filthy Beasts recounts Kirk’s unforgettable journey through luxury hotels and charity stores, private enclaves and public shame as he confronts his family’s many imperfections, accepts his unconventional childhood, and finally comes to terms with his own hidden secrets.


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Running with Scissors meets Grey Gardens in this gripping, true riches-to-rags tale of a wealthy family who lost it all and the unforgettable journey of a man coming to terms with his family’s deep flaws and his own long-buried truths. “Wake up, you filthy beasts!” Wendy Hamill would shout to her children in the mornings before school. Startled from their dreams, Kirk and Running with Scissors meets Grey Gardens in this gripping, true riches-to-rags tale of a wealthy family who lost it all and the unforgettable journey of a man coming to terms with his family’s deep flaws and his own long-buried truths. “Wake up, you filthy beasts!” Wendy Hamill would shout to her children in the mornings before school. Startled from their dreams, Kirk and his two brothers couldn’t help but wonder—would they find enough food in the house for breakfast? Following a rancorous split from New York’s upper-class society, newly divorced Wendy and her three sons are exiled from the East Coast elite circle. Wendy’s middle son, Kirk, is eight when she moves the family to her native Bermuda, leaving the three young boys to fend for themselves as she chases after the highs of her old life: alcohol, a wealthy new suitor, and other indulgences. After eventually leaving his mother’s dysfunctional orbit for college in New Orleans, Kirk begins to realize how different his family and upbringing is from that of his friends and peers. Split between extreme privilege—early years living in luxury on his family’s private compound—and bare survival—rationing food and water during the height of his mother’s alcoholism—Kirk is used to keeping up appearances and burying his inconvenient truths from the world, until he’s eighteen and falls in love for the first time. A fascinating window into the life of extreme privilege and a powerful story of self-acceptance, Filthy Beasts recounts Kirk’s unforgettable journey through luxury hotels and charity stores, private enclaves and public shame as he confronts his family’s many imperfections, accepts his unconventional childhood, and finally comes to terms with his own hidden secrets.

30 review for Filthy Beasts: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook... read by the author Kirkland Hamill I enjoyed this book. The writing was beautiful with such gorgeous descriptions - I felt like I was always with Hamill in every scene. ....(summer days on the yacht was sure fun for this sheltering-in-place reader)... The story reads like a novel—yet its a memoir. It had that tragic comic movie-cinematography experience. A middle child, Hamill had a younger and older brother. They were born into ultra wealth. After the parents quick lustful vacation-me Audiobook... read by the author Kirkland Hamill I enjoyed this book. The writing was beautiful with such gorgeous descriptions - I felt like I was always with Hamill in every scene. ....(summer days on the yacht was sure fun for this sheltering-in-place reader)... The story reads like a novel—yet its a memoir. It had that tragic comic movie-cinematography experience. A middle child, Hamill had a younger and older brother. They were born into ultra wealth. After the parents quick lustful vacation-meeting-romance marriage—in Bermuda— they settled in New York. When the ‘filthy Beasts’ ( the three brothers), were in their teen years, their mother, took them back to Bermuda to live... leaving behind their rich-privileged-posh life ... as well as the alcoholic father/husband.... but was she, Wendy, was also an alcoholic herself. A spiral downhill life begins. Alcoholism ran rampant in the family.... but Hamill wrote his memoir- seamlessly—with humorous/ heartfelt/heartbreak enjoyable stories. I got swept away Hamill’s life - highs and lows - I loved Hamill’s dry witty personality- his deep passion for his mother ( especially when he was younger)... meeting his friends- and following his chaotic roller coaster life. Very engaging audiobook. I literally got swept away with Hamill’s life. From filthy rich ( it was fun to fantasize some of those luxury aspects) to poverty, ‘coming-out’ in his 30’s as being gay, surviving addictions, child abandonment and abuse, betrayal, repercussions and emptiness that came with wealth, divorce, sexual identity, ....and more ‘falling apart’ for each of the ‘filthy beasts’.....(sometimes felt like a train wreck) ..... I can’t just say.... “Oh this is simply another one of ‘those’ stories”—as sarcasm might have it about another dysfunctional family— That would be like saying all earthquakes are the same - every hurricane is the same - every murder is the same - every life is the same..... Hamill’s ‘own’ uniqueness- his own pain, his own discoveries, his kind disposition, his funny bone, his understandings about the conditions of life, the many complexities —his insights —somehow made for a very moving fulfilling memoir-audio-experience.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Heustis

    I loved this book! Hamill was so open in this book which really gave me a filterless look at his life from his point of view. Many of us deal with addiction in our families, and that experience can be difficult to put into words. There can often be this expectation that family members are either left totally broken from their childhood or that they spend every minute trying to help their family member with addiction when it’s often a combination of the two. I also loved reading about his brother I loved this book! Hamill was so open in this book which really gave me a filterless look at his life from his point of view. Many of us deal with addiction in our families, and that experience can be difficult to put into words. There can often be this expectation that family members are either left totally broken from their childhood or that they spend every minute trying to help their family member with addiction when it’s often a combination of the two. I also loved reading about his brothers. I am very close with my brother and without spoilers, there were a couple moments that nearly broke my heart. I was also fortunate enough to be born at a time when I don’t witness nearly as much homophobia as the author did. Reading about his initial denial was so fascinating to me. I love a book that teaches me more and more about people, and this book really left me thinking. I will certainly be passing this book around my family!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I was super disappointed by this one. The story was one we have all read many, many times (absent, addicted parents) with a bit of poor little rich boy thrown in. I felt like the author thought he was being rather droll and dryly funny in his prose but it came across as caustic and mean-spirited. It was really a story of a bunch of sad, angry people living in misery. I don't understand how he got a book deal to write this. No one was likable, it wasn't funny, relatable or even interesting. A dar I was super disappointed by this one. The story was one we have all read many, many times (absent, addicted parents) with a bit of poor little rich boy thrown in. I felt like the author thought he was being rather droll and dryly funny in his prose but it came across as caustic and mean-spirited. It was really a story of a bunch of sad, angry people living in misery. I don't understand how he got a book deal to write this. No one was likable, it wasn't funny, relatable or even interesting. A dark hole of a memoir.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Maybe I've read too many of these "I survived and thrived" memoirs, but I didn't find this one as compelling as others in the genre. What I found interesting was day to day life in Bermuda, which I, like most previous visitors, remember for unending beautiful weather, smells, tennis courts and madras. Maybe I've read too many of these "I survived and thrived" memoirs, but I didn't find this one as compelling as others in the genre. What I found interesting was day to day life in Bermuda, which I, like most previous visitors, remember for unending beautiful weather, smells, tennis courts and madras.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Here's my thing about memoirs - I'm only drawn to ones that leave you saying, "wow, that was messed up." Kirkland Hamill's Filthy Beasts is presented as Running with Scissors meets Grey Gardens, which is, IMHO, the perfect sweet spot. Hamill was born into extreme wealth with two very interesting parents - his father who squandered the family money, and his mother, a beautiful, emotionally abusive alcoholic who moved the boys to her native Bermuda and wears sunglasses indoors. I read this book in Here's my thing about memoirs - I'm only drawn to ones that leave you saying, "wow, that was messed up." Kirkland Hamill's Filthy Beasts is presented as Running with Scissors meets Grey Gardens, which is, IMHO, the perfect sweet spot. Hamill was born into extreme wealth with two very interesting parents - his father who squandered the family money, and his mother, a beautiful, emotionally abusive alcoholic who moved the boys to her native Bermuda and wears sunglasses indoors. I read this book in one shot and highly enjoyed it. Hamill tells stories from his childhood with a darkly comedic lens, which is probably the result of years of trauma. The depravity of rich people never ceases to amaze me! I loved how his relationship with his mother and his brothers evolved over the years - how his emotions flow from hate to love to resentment and back again so quickly, and so freely. Throughout the book, Hamill grapples with his self identity and sexuality while trying to navigate his place in his own family. 4 stars from me! Note that this book can be very triggering and contains depictions of alcoholism and abuse (both physical and verbal). Thank you to Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mallory (onmalsshelf) Bartel

    Thank you Avid Reader Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this memoir. While some may say it's just another "I survived an alcoholic parent and survived", I believe it is much more than that. Kirkland shared how he grew up with two brothers and how each of them took much different roads in the future with how their parents shaped their lives. Much for than a "I survived and thrived" memoir. It's more of a self discovery while learning to love yourself despite the hand yo Thank you Avid Reader Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this memoir. While some may say it's just another "I survived an alcoholic parent and survived", I believe it is much more than that. Kirkland shared how he grew up with two brothers and how each of them took much different roads in the future with how their parents shaped their lives. Much for than a "I survived and thrived" memoir. It's more of a self discovery while learning to love yourself despite the hand you've been dealt memoir. From a parental divorce, to moving to Bermuda and dealing with an absent and alcoholic parent, to escaping back to the US for schooling, Kirkland's memoir shows that it is okay to take a path away from your family while still remaining in the picture when family needs you.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑬𝒗𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒖𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒎𝒚 𝒆𝒗𝒐𝒍𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒇𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒕 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒗𝒂𝒍𝒖𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑰 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒂𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒕, 𝒔𝒑𝒖𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒏 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒂 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆𝒃𝒐𝒂𝒕 𝒍𝒂𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒂 𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒅𝒊𝒅𝒏’𝒕 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒊𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒂𝒍𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒚 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈. Kirkland Hamill was born to old money, and the elitist snobbery that comes with it. His father’s family has “secured a seemingly permanent foothold in society’s upper echelons”, living in a family compound, owning Park Av via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑬𝒗𝒆𝒏𝒕𝒖𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒎𝒚 𝒆𝒗𝒐𝒍𝒗𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒍𝒅 𝒄𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒊𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒕 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒇𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒕 𝒘𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒚 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒗𝒂𝒍𝒖𝒆𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝑰 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒂𝒖𝒈𝒉𝒕, 𝒔𝒑𝒖𝒓𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒏 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒂 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆𝒃𝒐𝒂𝒕 𝒍𝒂𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒅 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒂 𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒑 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒅𝒊𝒅𝒏’𝒕 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒊𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒂𝒍𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒚 𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈. Kirkland Hamill was born to old money, and the elitist snobbery that comes with it. His father’s family has “secured a seemingly permanent foothold in society’s upper echelons”, living in a family compound, owning Park Avenue apartments, second homes. His father’s relatives with their superior blood are always looking down upon the rest of the world especially those who cater to them, but how is a child to live when there is a fracture in his parent’s marriage and he is meant to navigate his mother’s native Bermuda? Born to a working class family, his beautiful mother married up, her origins a thing that was never discussed, as if the very words “working class” are shameful and tasteless. His mother’s life and family remain a mystery until he is plunged into her past. When his father purchases and moves the family to Sky Step Farm in Clinton, Kirkland’s mother is forced out of the New York social set and flounders around the high society of the ‘quaint’ town. She isn’t the only family member unable to adjust to the drastic change, Kirkland may succeed at school (a clever boy) but he hasn’t any friends and home isn’t any better. The spark is gone, along with the laughter. Too, Kirklands longs for his Jamaican Nanny (his second love, more mother than his own). His siblings, older brother Robin and the youngest Monty aren’t much company, brothers differing in ages and temperaments orbiting their own worlds. Monty, mostly ignored and unwanted by his big brothers and the eldest Robin mean or disinterested. The distance between the siblings grows wider through the years, as they try to escape the dysfunction of their parents. Their life of privilege disintegrates when they touch ground in Bermuda, feeling like exiles, uprooted from their father. Despite living in a pretty home and attending private school, they are now living beneath the means they were born to. Water for bathing and drinking no longer an endless stream from a tap, their life becomes one of conservation. The beauty and kindness of the natives is a salve, despite racial tension, Bermuda feels far more welcoming than the home they left but inside the family there is dissension. With their mother full circle, back around the family she thought she had escaped, she tries to cling to the vestiges of wealth and privilege she has grown accustomed to in their former life. The stink of unhappiness and disappointment clings to her, no longer the self contained society wife she is unfiltered, a more bitter yet freer version of herself. Kirkland’s father creates a new life, minus his boys and ex-wife, with another woman. Now that his father is remarried , Kirkland spends time between his father’s horse farm and Bermuda. With Barb (stepmother) on the scene, there is a new dynamic in place, too time spent with his father is a plunge back into ‘the collective family organism’. His dad is as distant as ever, a wound for any boy looking for affection and guidance, giving birth to a conflicted self. Back home it’s enthusiastic morning screams of, “Wake up, you filthy beasts!” and “It’s time to face the beauty of a brand-new day.” Despite days spent on the beach, there isn’t enough sunshine to staunch their mother’s enormous depression, nor keep her from sinking into her drinking. Dysfunction that in fiction should bond brothers together in real life only pushes them further apart as it’s every man (or boy) for himself. The consequences of her decline and their father’s fickle attention leads to a lifelong struggle for Kirkland, Robin and Monty. The truth about poverty is, there are many versions. Pain is pain is pain and certainly it’s a harder struggle coming of age dirt poor, hungry, homeless or abused but certainly it’s no picnic living with any parent who is in a ‘self-imposed exile’ and in a fragile state of mind. There are many poor children who have very present, loving parents- but a lack of love and attention can be a different type of poverty. It truly eats away at the mind, self-esteem. A child of any circumstance, more than fanciful things, longs for love, guidance, structure and acceptance. What a parent can do to their children’s head-space is a powerful thing, there isn’t enough money in the world to fix rejection. How hard is it to escape turning into them, thinking and speaking like they do? A bad childhood, needy self-centered parents can remain with a man or woman to the end of their lives. It’s a bitter seed to swallow, a parent’s neglect. We have a tendency to look at those dandy, “story book perfect” families with envy, never imagining how cold things are backstage. If only the brothers could have been a support system for one another, maybe things could have been different. I felt so awful for little Monty. I wondered about what his memoir would reveal if he wrote one, because we all live a different story in the same home. This memoir speaks of the struggles of Kirkland- a conflicted, lonely little boy who comes of age and learns to crawl out of the wreckage of his parent’s marriage and their unraveling. It’s not pretty, but it’s honest. I enjoyed it. Publication Date: July 14, 2020 Avid Reader Press/ Simon & Schuster

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paperflame

    This book starts out being really quirky and funny. By the time it ends, it is desperately sad.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Ogburn

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this memoir (to be published in July). I was hooked immediately, reading about the author's experiences growing up with his brothers on the "family compound" in upper-class New York and then later in Bermuda following his parents' divorce. The author juxtaposes the wealth and selfishness of his parents with the poverty and neglect that he and his brothers endure. Although the book is tragic at times, it is laugh ou Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this memoir (to be published in July). I was hooked immediately, reading about the author's experiences growing up with his brothers on the "family compound" in upper-class New York and then later in Bermuda following his parents' divorce. The author juxtaposes the wealth and selfishness of his parents with the poverty and neglect that he and his brothers endure. Although the book is tragic at times, it is laugh out-loud funny at others with the descriptions of "Froggy" the ugly but wealthy stepdad, the French speaking grandmother, and OMG, the Winnie the Pooh scene! I highly recommend the book especially if you love the memoir genre as I do!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen Brockenbrough

    I LOVED this book. I love memoirs, and this is one of my favorites. The author has an ingenious way of making batshit crazy not only relatable but meaningful. He doesn't go for the easy laugh. He wants you to feel the joy and the pain in equal measure. I laughed out loud. And I cried. I closed the book drained, and yet with a full heart. I can't recommend this book highly enough. For me, it ranks up there with my favorites in the genre - The Glass Castle, The Liars' Club, and Don't Let's Go to t I LOVED this book. I love memoirs, and this is one of my favorites. The author has an ingenious way of making batshit crazy not only relatable but meaningful. He doesn't go for the easy laugh. He wants you to feel the joy and the pain in equal measure. I laughed out loud. And I cried. I closed the book drained, and yet with a full heart. I can't recommend this book highly enough. For me, it ranks up there with my favorites in the genre - The Glass Castle, The Liars' Club, and Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood. You need to put this on your To Read list.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    Filthy Beasts by Kirkland Hamill What an amazing novel for a debut author! Such an insightful, emotional, and gripping read! The book opened wounds in my own heart that I thought I had closed, but I suppose the damage parents inflict upon their children last a lifetime ingrained in their psyche! Kirklands life being raised in a wealthy society where he wanted for nothing and then all of a sudden to be thrust into near poverty had to have been a shock! Three small children are thrust into taking ca Filthy Beasts by Kirkland Hamill What an amazing novel for a debut author! Such an insightful, emotional, and gripping read! The book opened wounds in my own heart that I thought I had closed, but I suppose the damage parents inflict upon their children last a lifetime ingrained in their psyche! Kirklands life being raised in a wealthy society where he wanted for nothing and then all of a sudden to be thrust into near poverty had to have been a shock! Three small children are thrust into taking care of themselves and their mother and they live in a new foreign country! Becoming aware that your parents are not the typical Leave it to Beaver Cleaver family and that there friends are not exactly even stable either didn’t exactly help the author nor his brothers have a normal upbringing! His mother usually had a drink and withdrew from her children and from life. I had a alcoholic father who was emotionally and physically abusive not only to my mother, but to my siblings and myself! We each suffered our own personal hell and life is not easy and we grew up dirt poor because even before my dad eventually finally left for good, he never kept a job for long. We all had jobs and I know my first side job was at age 12 doing gardening, but my first job that was recorded for social security was at age 14, I was a popcorn girl at a local drive in theatre! The author at least had financial support to a degree and was able to attend college. However, to also see his mother decline into a bottle of alcohol and his father as well was no picnic! I felt the emotional pain for the author as he told about his discovery of his sexuality while trying to maintain a semblance of balance between his dysfunctional brothers! His parents had crazy relationships with others and the kids were dragged right into the fray! The book is about self discovery and trying to minimize the conflict and confusion that your parents and family put upon you when you don’t know how to combat it or deflect it! I recommend this book for anyone & everyone who has ever had a dysfunctional life relationship whether it was your own or a family member or a personal friend!! This book just helps you to see the hurt, confusion and pain! I received this advanced copy from netgally and willingly give my words and opinions!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Long

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. Wow, there are a lot of ups and downs in this memoir. Everything from neglect, divorce, alcoholism, sexuality, and more. The author tells all in an honest way and his life's story is quite fascinating. The tragic declines and deaths of his parents were so sad as alcoholism played such a large part of their undoing. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. Wow, there are a lot of ups and downs in this memoir. Everything from neglect, divorce, alcoholism, sexuality, and more. The author tells all in an honest way and his life's story is quite fascinating. The tragic declines and deaths of his parents were so sad as alcoholism played such a large part of their undoing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gail O'Connor

    The novel about poor little rich kids began interestingly enough and did get my attention. However, it lagged for me and I just couldn't finish it. The novel about poor little rich kids began interestingly enough and did get my attention. However, it lagged for me and I just couldn't finish it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert Swanson

    Very enjoyable and laugh out loud funny in places. This man has a way with snarky witticisms. But, it was a truly sad story. Sure, there is a happy ending, the price he paid was high. I think the book was a terrific exercise in letting the demons go. This is the kind of guy you’d love to have a drink with.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Thematically, Filthy Beasts is a book about being able to look back, seeing where your healing has happened, and learning to save oneself--through Hamill's own work and with the early connection to the Alcoholics Anonymous community. I was especially moved by the decision to come out, and how Hamill decided to just do it in a way that worked for him (at 30. Times have changed so much in a few decades). "I started to see my mother as somebody caught in darkness, doing whatever she could to steal Thematically, Filthy Beasts is a book about being able to look back, seeing where your healing has happened, and learning to save oneself--through Hamill's own work and with the early connection to the Alcoholics Anonymous community. I was especially moved by the decision to come out, and how Hamill decided to just do it in a way that worked for him (at 30. Times have changed so much in a few decades). "I started to see my mother as somebody caught in darkness, doing whatever she could to steal glimpses of light, knowing they wouldn't last for long. I saw how brave that was, and how sad." (238) The storytelling in Filthy Beasts felt easily adaptable to the screen--like The Royal Tenenbaums and Arrested Development, propelled by Hamill's humorous delivery of dark moments. For fans of David Sedaris and Iliza Shlesinger.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cabell Youell

    Kirkland paints a true picture of larger-than-life characters trying to survive a future none of them expected. Born to an privileged family at the top of the social world, Kirkland finds his world collapsing into a cash-strapped life populated with proud, addiction-ridden parents refusing to accept the reality of their new life and the truth of their evolving son. Kirkland skillfully manages a tightrope walk in his narrative - giving us an intimate view into his inner world while avoiding any i Kirkland paints a true picture of larger-than-life characters trying to survive a future none of them expected. Born to an privileged family at the top of the social world, Kirkland finds his world collapsing into a cash-strapped life populated with proud, addiction-ridden parents refusing to accept the reality of their new life and the truth of their evolving son. Kirkland skillfully manages a tightrope walk in his narrative - giving us an intimate view into his inner world while avoiding any inclination to wallow in the pain and betrayals of his upbringing. It is funny, alarming, raw, and honest. While this book is certainly about the fall of Kirkland's family and the emergence of Kirkland's true self, it is also the story of the complicated and resilient love of flawed brothers. In spite of everything (and there is a lot), this family does not disintegrate. A must read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eileenc727

    Actually did not finish. I was halfway though and was on the fence if I cared about how it ended. I rarely don't finish a book, especially when I'm so far in. I decided to look at the reviews on Goodreads. When I saw the author left snarky comments on a one-star review I was really put off. Someone else commented "angry author alert". I'm moving on. Actually did not finish. I was halfway though and was on the fence if I cared about how it ended. I rarely don't finish a book, especially when I'm so far in. I decided to look at the reviews on Goodreads. When I saw the author left snarky comments on a one-star review I was really put off. Someone else commented "angry author alert". I'm moving on.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dave Knefley

    I haven't read a memoir or biography for 30 years, so I'm not sure how to rate one. This one was darkly humorous and blatantly foreboding. I kind of want to sit in a dimly lit bar and strike up a conversation with an unlistening stranger, but also sit in a circle in a church basement seeking anonymous help simultaneously. I have a tenuous link to a family member of the author, so I can't give it less than 4 stars. It read quickly and made me laugh, while also making me ponder the memories and pa I haven't read a memoir or biography for 30 years, so I'm not sure how to rate one. This one was darkly humorous and blatantly foreboding. I kind of want to sit in a dimly lit bar and strike up a conversation with an unlistening stranger, but also sit in a circle in a church basement seeking anonymous help simultaneously. I have a tenuous link to a family member of the author, so I can't give it less than 4 stars. It read quickly and made me laugh, while also making me ponder the memories and paths of families regardless of wealth, status, orientation, or geography. 4 stars even.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brooke Antonio

    I started this book and it was okay, then I saw the author commented rudely on an individual’s Goodreads review. The review was not entirely positive but to see an author be so petty made me not want to read any further and support that type of behaviour.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This is the story of Kirkland Hamill, recounting the 2 most significant strands of his life, his discovery of his homosexuality and his mother drowning in alcohol. His story is one we have read many times, the horror of being the child of an alcoholic and the neglect and abuse that goes with it. Though born to a family that had been considered wealthy and elite, they soon fell into dire financial straits. Kirkland’s mother and father both became alcoholics and the 3 brothers suffered horribly un This is the story of Kirkland Hamill, recounting the 2 most significant strands of his life, his discovery of his homosexuality and his mother drowning in alcohol. His story is one we have read many times, the horror of being the child of an alcoholic and the neglect and abuse that goes with it. Though born to a family that had been considered wealthy and elite, they soon fell into dire financial straits. Kirkland’s mother and father both became alcoholics and the 3 brothers suffered horribly under their erratic care. Eventually, his mother married the very wealthy John Outerbridge ( I love the fact the the Outerbridge Crossing between SI and NJ is named for that family, I always thought it was geographic). Ultimately, she did succeed in dying as a result of her alcohol abuse. I enjoyed this,, but the story is sadly familiar. Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this memoir.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Aditi

    I'm a huge fan of memoirs, but was kind of skeptical about this one since it seemed a bit cliche, but I was pleasantly surprised by Filthy Beasts. While the premise of absent, addicted parents is one that is fairly common, the things that separate Hamill's memoir from others about similar issues is his writing and his unique perspective. His writing is humourous but raw, and you feel the real pain and confusion Hamill felt as he was growing up. The tragic declines and left turns of not only his I'm a huge fan of memoirs, but was kind of skeptical about this one since it seemed a bit cliche, but I was pleasantly surprised by Filthy Beasts. While the premise of absent, addicted parents is one that is fairly common, the things that separate Hamill's memoir from others about similar issues is his writing and his unique perspective. His writing is humourous but raw, and you feel the real pain and confusion Hamill felt as he was growing up. The tragic declines and left turns of not only his mother, but the rest of his family was moving. Hamill grapples with loving his mother, hating her addiction, and accepting who she is as she is. His desparation for approval comes through clearly, but the catharsis of finding freedom at the end gave me hope for the writer. There were certain moments where I thought it seemed too detailed and the pacing was slow, but overall was a great read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anne Seay

    I do not remember a time when I enjoyed a book more. Hamill is brilliant! I was taken on a thrilling, but heartbreaking, ride with this book. I found myself laughing out loud and sobbing, alternately, with every turn of the page. Hamill's wit is unparalleled and he uses it to slice through the crushing reality of his youth. He is a skilled artist who is aware of how to use his talents to draw you in and expose raw emotion just long enough... I devoured this book like I did every Mary Karr and Jea I do not remember a time when I enjoyed a book more. Hamill is brilliant! I was taken on a thrilling, but heartbreaking, ride with this book. I found myself laughing out loud and sobbing, alternately, with every turn of the page. Hamill's wit is unparalleled and he uses it to slice through the crushing reality of his youth. He is a skilled artist who is aware of how to use his talents to draw you in and expose raw emotion just long enough... I devoured this book like I did every Mary Karr and Jeanette Walls! This book is not to be missed. I can only hope it is a movie someday, too. Until then, I will wait patiently for Hamill's next book..

  23. 5 out of 5

    Holly Dowell

    The book is very well-written and bitingly honest. Parts are funny because the family is so aggressively sarcastic it’s hard not to laugh. It’s a very sad book, though, because of the wide-ranging misery that follows in the wake of the Hamill family, brought on almost entirely by the irresponsible and harmful choices of the parents. As a reader, you feel so much for Kirkland and the weight he carries in the face of scorn and diminution. I can’t call it an uplifting story. Most everyone touched b The book is very well-written and bitingly honest. Parts are funny because the family is so aggressively sarcastic it’s hard not to laugh. It’s a very sad book, though, because of the wide-ranging misery that follows in the wake of the Hamill family, brought on almost entirely by the irresponsible and harmful choices of the parents. As a reader, you feel so much for Kirkland and the weight he carries in the face of scorn and diminution. I can’t call it an uplifting story. Most everyone touched by the chaos is left worse for the wear. Kirkland emerges, but the cost is very high. ⁣ Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mediaman

    This is another one of the too many memoirs about a hidden gay man whose family upbringing is crazy. This time the newbie author chooses to focus on his alcoholic mom, who is probably the least interesting person in the entire group. She's like a caricature Cruella de Vil, mean to everyone around her but pretentious and thinking she's better than all. Early in the book I tired of reading the same negative characteristics about her over and over again. Maybe author Hamill should have been more for This is another one of the too many memoirs about a hidden gay man whose family upbringing is crazy. This time the newbie author chooses to focus on his alcoholic mom, who is probably the least interesting person in the entire group. She's like a caricature Cruella de Vil, mean to everyone around her but pretentious and thinking she's better than all. Early in the book I tired of reading the same negative characteristics about her over and over again. Maybe author Hamill should have been more forthcoming on his own life and his bizarre choices. Like going to a college in New Orleans but he didn't know where New Orleans was located? Seriously? And he claims he was a top student at a snooty private high school? Instead of much self-revelation he barely talks about himself beyond simplistic terms. He says he kind of wondered if he was gay (barely), had sex with a girl, but did nothing sexual with a guy until he just one day at age 30 decided he was gay (no explanation given of his thinking despite him never having met anyone gay), and then he weirdly came out at age 32 by playing a game with each family member in which he asked, "Guess who in this room is gay?" That's about all we learn about his gay choices. Nothing sexual in this book. He says in one sentence that he dated many guys. Then he gives a couple paragraphs to his husband. But the author truly remains a mystery and doesn't do himself any justice defending Bill Clinton or demeaning conservative Christians when Hamill doesn't seem to understand his own issues. The book isn't very well written. Too much time is spent repeating alcoholic behavior and too many stories are left incomplete. There are characters that pop up that you don't know who they are or never hear from again, and some key situations remain unresolved. The book really should have centered on his father--the grandson of a wealthy businessman. Hamill's dad single-handedly destroyed his lineage by the horrible choices made. It went beyond the entire family's problem with drinking to include incestual relations (having sex with his kids' nanny, then leaving his wife for the nanny's mother!) and bad business dealings, all while not caring how his behavior impacted others. Kirkland Hamill is a sad guy who had a rough life, but he doesn't seem to want to dig deep enough to uncover the deep truths of his family. Instead he was his mother's favorite as a child and he sticks by her through her death, even using the final pages to make claims that she was a great mother. No, she wasn't. At least not based on this book. The entire family turned out to be a mess, and Hamill has yet to see clearly the reason why or how he could have changed things beyond Al-Anon meetings.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ilya Kavalerov

    How Bermudian is it? About 20%. The story takes place in the Andirondacks, Upstate, and Bermuda, with sprinkles of Botson, Seattle, and the Beltway. Overall it is a page-turner, albeit a slightly unsettling one ultimately about mortality and alcoholism. It is a story of nobody choosing life. It reads like a jar of jelly beans. Each memory is a short sampler and the only tie in to the other memories the cast of characters. There are a lot of temporary friends who drift in and out of the memories, and How Bermudian is it? About 20%. The story takes place in the Andirondacks, Upstate, and Bermuda, with sprinkles of Botson, Seattle, and the Beltway. Overall it is a page-turner, albeit a slightly unsettling one ultimately about mortality and alcoholism. It is a story of nobody choosing life. It reads like a jar of jelly beans. Each memory is a short sampler and the only tie in to the other memories the cast of characters. There are a lot of temporary friends who drift in and out of the memories, and who are hard to keep straight, but the personalities of the family members are well rendered. The likeable things about the book are the funny edgy encounters where profanity is mundane. There is also the vicarious aspect of peeping in on the offspring of wealthy individuals: wealthy in this context means owning more land than is in central park and multiples of tens of thousands of square feet in homes. The lion's share of the family's income came from the stock dividend of the grandfather's company, supporting a luxurious life with a nanny and butler. A typical dividend is less than 1% quarterly, so the assets must have been huge! The big impression is that their great wealth enables great carelessness. And great carelessness facilitates destructive choices. The individuals of the family all make choices, sometimes small, that destroy themselves and their relationships. Their carelessness allows child abuse, self destructing drinking, alienating each other, and somehow they end up with debts too. The main character describes how the further he gets away from their influence, the happier he becomes. But at the same time he has a great nostalgia for his mother. Others have called this a "I survived" book. I think that's accurate. But it's still depressing overall. Either way a page turner.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I will start this review by saying that I'm not an avid reader. I often have a hard time getting out of my head enough to commit to reading a book from start to finish. This book was a completely different experience for me - I read it within a week and found myself waking each morning prioritizing time that I could escape into the pages of this book. Kirkland does a beautiful job of telling a heavy story, using such vivid descriptions of experiences that you literally feel like you are standing I will start this review by saying that I'm not an avid reader. I often have a hard time getting out of my head enough to commit to reading a book from start to finish. This book was a completely different experience for me - I read it within a week and found myself waking each morning prioritizing time that I could escape into the pages of this book. Kirkland does a beautiful job of telling a heavy story, using such vivid descriptions of experiences that you literally feel like you are standing in his shoes. While there are many painful memories described throughout the story, I see a lot of beauty in how he learns from these experiences and uses them to build his character towards being the best version of himself. These memories are also peppered with spontaneous laugh-out-loud moments that bring a lot of light to the story and also shed insight into how he was able to maintain sanity throughout his upbringing. I really appreciate the rawness of his reflections as he exposes a dark yet fascinating side to growing up "rich" (or supposedly rich!) as this lifestyle is so often romanticized. I also found myself particularly invested in his journey towards understanding, recognizing, and sharing his sexual orientation with himself and those around him, though the book is about so much more than that! In the final pages, I found myself crying out of sadness for the losses he has suffered but also shed tears of joy and relief for how he was able to overcome the immense challenges that were handed to him throughout his life. I've never read a memoir before but this book gave me all the feels and has left me wanting more! I really hope that Kirkland has more stories to tell because I am so hooked!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Having grown up about 15 years prior to Mr. Hamill in a similar WASP environment with one parent descended from an old Bermudian family, I understand. The jarring sensation upon realizing that the daily three cocktails before dinner and several glasses of wine with dinner is excessive and probably alcoholism.... These behaviors, as Mr. Hamill describes, are not only normal but also expected among the “Chick & Muffy” set. All that alcohol fuels the emotional neglect of children, especially when t Having grown up about 15 years prior to Mr. Hamill in a similar WASP environment with one parent descended from an old Bermudian family, I understand. The jarring sensation upon realizing that the daily three cocktails before dinner and several glasses of wine with dinner is excessive and probably alcoholism.... These behaviors, as Mr. Hamill describes, are not only normal but also expected among the “Chick & Muffy” set. All that alcohol fuels the emotional neglect of children, especially when those children do not subscribe to the expectations of their elders. Those goals are unattainable when the same expectations continually shift, and then comes the soul-crushing realization that the child exists only to enhance the others’ self-images...prestigious schools, classical piano lessons, table manners and even the impossible continental style of holding the knife and fork, an impossible task when eating peas. Moreover, as Mr. Hamill describes, one must date and choose a spouse according to a narrow set of standards. Authenticity is repressed if it is diametrically opposed to the superficial WASP ideal. Children must perpetuate the illusion, the “keeping up of appearances.” Mr. Hamill recognizes and processes these issues, and he doesn’t give in to the poor-me. This book is in part therapy and part another warning that substance abuse effects families from all backgrounds, and the impact on the children can be detrimental, especially when the other parent doesn’t provide grounding and validation. I get it, Mr. Hamill. I might also add that my experiences of people using the word “cocktail” typically identifies them as alcoholics, especially around the country clubs.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Susan Obryan

    Kudos to Kirkland Hamill for a candid, honest and brutal look at his life that went from luxury to near poverty, from confusion to realization. Hamill was born into a wealthy Nantucket home, but when his parents divorced, he, then 8, and his brothers quickly learned that mom Wendy wasn't much of a mother. When they returned to Bermuda, Wendy's homeland, the boys were left often without food or supervision. How does one find his place in the world when there's no structure or support, only a drunk Kudos to Kirkland Hamill for a candid, honest and brutal look at his life that went from luxury to near poverty, from confusion to realization. Hamill was born into a wealthy Nantucket home, but when his parents divorced, he, then 8, and his brothers quickly learned that mom Wendy wasn't much of a mother. When they returned to Bermuda, Wendy's homeland, the boys were left often without food or supervision. How does one find his place in the world when there's no structure or support, only a drunk mom too eager to move on the next man? The author was forced to find out the hard way. Surrounding by all-American athletes and no maternal support, Hamill is left alone to discover himself and try to make sense of the world. Too poor for prep school. Too sissy to be a man. Too gentle to be surrounded by such cruelty, absence and emotional neglect. All describe the bubble in which Hamill found himself encased. What he did have, though, was a strength and determination to better himself, to be honest with himself, and to strive to be his best self. The years, tears and triumphs are recounted with recalled with unflinching honesty. At times, it's hard to read about experiences or lack of, but readers can't help but cheer for Hamill's climb up and out. His mom now is dead. He's left her go. But Hamill's world goes on, and so will his evolution. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for my opinion.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Sieloff

    A dramatic story of a family harmed by too much money and alcohol, this book was honest and interesting, and just a bit caustic. Kirkland, the author writes a tale of a childhood of generational wealth lost, the culture of old money and alcohol impacting marriages, and kids as fallout. I was really taken with this story. Alcoholism plays a huge role, both as a social lubricant, where it is expected that one will be able to hold their liquor...until they no longer can. It impacts relationships an A dramatic story of a family harmed by too much money and alcohol, this book was honest and interesting, and just a bit caustic. Kirkland, the author writes a tale of a childhood of generational wealth lost, the culture of old money and alcohol impacting marriages, and kids as fallout. I was really taken with this story. Alcoholism plays a huge role, both as a social lubricant, where it is expected that one will be able to hold their liquor...until they no longer can. It impacts relationships and stops being social for nearly all involved in this story. The sad decline of Kirkland's mother is difficult, but I still felt empathy for her. There was still love in the snarky comments each family member made to each other, even if it was the only way to show it. Others have called this a coming of age book, and it is, but less so than others I have read. While Kirkland's sexuality is certainly an important storyline, it isn't a dramatic one. I wonder if this was downplayed in the book or just in the life of the author, as he was focusing more on his relationship with his mother. I really enjoyed this book. The details, the wit, and the lifestyles described really kept this story moving and from becoming bitter or depressing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Although the subject of Filthy Beasts is very sad (the breakup of a marriage, alcoholic mother, etc.) there are some parts that are quite funny. One scene in particular involved the author's view as a young man that Olivia Newton John didn't sing "Have You Ever Been Mellow" with the "range of emotion that the lyrics demanded." And this guy didn't know he was gay until he was an adult? Okay. As I read Filthy Beasts, I kept feeling like Kirkland was the least interesting person in his family. I fo Although the subject of Filthy Beasts is very sad (the breakup of a marriage, alcoholic mother, etc.) there are some parts that are quite funny. One scene in particular involved the author's view as a young man that Olivia Newton John didn't sing "Have You Ever Been Mellow" with the "range of emotion that the lyrics demanded." And this guy didn't know he was gay until he was an adult? Okay. As I read Filthy Beasts, I kept feeling like Kirkland was the least interesting person in his family. I found myself wondering more about his father, mother, and brothers and how they would have told this story. But maybe Kirk was the only one sober enough to tell this tale. The final chapters and the epilogue are quite sad because you really see the culmination of years of alcoholism in this family.

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