Sergei bravely takes us inside his life to explore the dysfunctional realities of families; his journey leads him full circle to reconnect with his mother and find the love, acceptance, and pride that was always there bringing salvation and peace to them both... A must read for all families
Poof positive that the 1% also live through their own personal hell. Well written and brave given all the backlash from the Miami Cuban society who knew, envied and worshipped Dolores Smithies a character bigger than life, and well worth this book.
A riveting,powerful memoir of family love and life,
I started reading this book and could not put it down. Not only is it beautifully written but the storytelling is excellent. It is written with such soul and passion that it holds you and does not let you go. It is poignant, very human and incredibly soulful! I highly recommend it! MB
A tale of wildly glamorous and entitled lives, lived above the fray - and deep in denial
Alternating between Dollsie's last months as she battles pancreatic cancer, and poignant, often hilarious (and at times shocking) scenes from Sergei's childhood
From the mountain village of Gstaad, Switzerland, to New York, Miami and Cuba, the narrative explores the emotional and geographical landscapes of a mother and son whose lives are revealed to be poignant parallels. After avoiding his narcissistic mother for a lifetime, seeking shelter from her rage, Sergei comes face-to-face with Dollsie as she confronts mortality.
A jaw-dropping, compulsively readable memoir of intra-familial love-hate among the Spoiled Rotten jet set (kids and parents alike), combined with sexual shenanigans on a very high and twisted plane.
With lyrical wit and a psychotherapist’s penetrating insight, Sergei Boissier sheds a harsh yet compassionate light on what’s hiding in the shadows among the elite international jet-set. An entertaining and heart-wrenching true story of betrayal and redemption.
Sergei Boissier’s up front, unapologetic memoir made me feel, in turns, intrigued, appalled, beguiled, debauched, entirely fascinated and finally -- whatever else -- unable to stop until I got to the last page.
Damage Control caught me by surprise. Dollsie is a great character, and Sergei Boissier bravely untangles his complicated love/hate relationship with her, his mother, as she approaches death and he, through forgiveness and hard work, embraces her life force in preparation for parenting his own daughter. This is a story of love—a privileged international setting and forays into gay decadence do not overshadow one man’s search for redemption and meaning. That he finds both, is the ultimate payoff.
This book has a huge amount of personality and feeling. I loved it. Sergei has done something completely his own. An original voice. A moving, entertaining rad. Thank you Monsieur Boissier.
The protagonist of any good novel or memoir must grow and change, but the reader better be entertained and moved while that happens. Sergei Boissier achieves that and more in "Damage Control," his memoir of life with his grande dame of a mother Dollsie. A diva who lived life high on every level (homes, fashion, men, booze), she could have been ripped from the pages of "Valley of the Dolls." Unlike those dramatis personae cardboard cutouts, she was real and Boissier paints her in all her glory and pain as he takes readers on his full-tilt journey of mother love and hate: nascent gay boy adoration to teenage resentment to adult hate and loathing and finally to acceptance, understanding and love. His humor and honesty as he matures from an empty life of perusing sex and drugs to becoming a father heeding Dollsie’s lessons – good and bad – as she dies, does what all good books do: moves and entertains.
The ultimate rendering of the cycle of life
Saying goodbye to a parent so you can say hello to a child, and finding grace and forgiveness through a mother’s love
Through his own experiences as a gay man journeying through the joys and perils of his generation, coming out in the early eighties in the deathly shadow of HIV and AIDS, and his years as an activist and therapist in the field, Sergei helps his mother come to terms with her guilt, her regrets and her fear of dying.
A View inside the Golden Pavilion
This book is a fascinating memoir and a testimonial as to what life is like in the rarefied atmosphere of International High Society. The author offers a most candid and vivid account of his life spent in several continents, in constant travel and re-location, a journey that is always life changing or mind altering or both. The structure of the book is around the pivotal event of his mother's mortal disease that allowed barely a year for them to really make peace with their convoluted pasts and express the love they had such great difficulty expressing while life was just normal, although normal is a word that hardly applies at all to their environment and life style. It goes back and forth between her present illness and the past, in flashes that at time feel like videos, viewing photographs from an album, others feel like pages from a 19th Century novel or a Spanish religious confessional from the 17th Century. One is in the midst of this magical world of glamour and splendor, but we are able to see it's flaws as well, the high toll it takes on real life's values, the loneliness and the pain are as present there as the design gowns and the catered parties.
The author's mother was Cuban, "Dollsie" as he calls her lived a life that reads like a script for a Hollywood movie. Her growing up between Havana and her grandfather's ranches, her debut into society in Havana's Golden Era, and her marriage just before the Fall of the Ancien Regime in Cuba to a scion of European aristocracy is all described in detail. The winner of her hand had to fight off two French princes and a Cuban golden boy of society that kept on appearing at every European spot that golden summer to win the competition for Dollsie, when it all coalesced into her marriage proposal and she married into the Swiss family that was to change her life forever.
After her marriage she had an affair with two Russians, one of them a Prince, the other destined to be her second husband and father of her last child; this is where you can envision an opera by Tchaikovsky, with all the beautiful arias of love and regret, nostalgia and remembrance.
That's one part of the book, the other is the author's struggle to come into his own in the midst of that opera, no easy task to say the least. As in real life opera, the secondary roles are difficult to sustain in the presence of a diva, which was Dollsie's character role par excellence, and to make your mark on them is a sign of true grit, which we totally get here. What emerges is an equally stunning testimonial by the author, into gay life at the time of AIDS. This is one of the best histories of the period I have ever read, not in a documentary way, but as it is remembered by someone who lived and suffered through that catastrophe and came out a survivor, and a matured individual that can help others through the emotional and psychological devastation, it's a beautiful transformation that will make a strong impression, no matter what your background may be.