THE TALKING CURE

Mike Feder, Author
Mike Feder, Author . Seven Stories $26.95 (382p) ISBN 978-1-58322-041-2
Reviewed on: 06/18/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Open Ebook - 246 pages - 978-1-60980-311-7
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In the '80s, a type of performance art sprang up in New York that was half Rousseau, half comedy routine. Karen Finley and Spalding Gray were the pioneers of this form, as was a New York radio personality, Mike Feder. Feder's new book shoehorns the stream-of-experience confessional into the lyrical novel form pioneered by Henry Miller, and the result is a seemingly uncensored cascade of petty vices and city adventures. Usually, this kind of thing is well criticized by La Rochefoucauld's dictum, "The extreme enjoyment we find in talking about ourselves should make us fear that we are not giving very much to our audience." Remarkably enough, Feder never lapses into tedium. His account of his psychological aches and pains—his crazy mother in Queens, who eventually killed herself; the two times he spent in mental wards; his distant relationship with his father and search for a father figure after his real father died; the breakup of both of his marriages, his volatile career in New York radio and theater—is fed by a high-voltage self-awareness, an utter surrender to his inner rhythms. His descriptions of his first stage monologue—"I talked straight ahead, hardly a pause for breath, for at least an hour, sometimes more"—could pass as an explanation of the way this book is paced. Sometimes his revelations are embarassing—do we need to know all the ways that he competed with his three-year-old daughter, Sarah, for his wife, Susan's, attention?—but his inability to sort out the trivial (including an old complaint about a bad review his first book, New York Son, received from PW) from the important lends his book its bizarre, endearing authenticity. (June)

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