The Bill from My Father: A Memoir

Bernard Cooper, Author . Simon & Schuster $23 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4962-1

Cooper, whose Maps to Anywhere won the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award, crafts a brusquely tender elegy to his baffling father, Edward, who died in 2000 (the book's title refers to an itemized bill of expenses incurred from upbringing and mailed from father to son). Edward was a blustery Los Angeles divorce lawyer with a flair for drama in and out of court. Circling from recent to distant past, Cooper recalls his utter bewilderment at his father's ill-advised imbroglios, which included an affair with his father's evangelical nurse and a lawsuit against the phone company. With a sharp scalpel of detail, Cooper dissects his father's stinging dismissals and unceremonious reconciliations with his sole surviving progeny, laboring to slice away a mystique that "ballooned into myth" in Edward's sustained absences. Dear old dad never bothered to read his son's prize-winning work, in which he figures prominently—though it's clear that father and son share a linguistic legerdemain. Stirring yet never saccharine, this memoir excavates a fraught history without once collapsing into cliché. As much as Cooper seeks truth, he finally grows comfortable in the shadowy depths of his father's legacy. "By delving into the riddle of him, I hoped to know his mystery by finer degrees." Agent, Sloan Harris. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/07/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-7432-9899-5
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-330-44740-9
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-0-330-44739-3
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-7432-4963-8
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