She’s baaaaack.

30 Sep

 

Terry Berger that is. Purveyor of “safe” books that supposedly helped the children of the 1970s explore their rich emotional and experiential landscapes. If they were white with groovy parents who played “Puff the Magic Dragon” for them and explained its meaning in full. I’m sure I would have poured over Berger had I been doing more than sucking my thumb in the ’70s. My parents were divorced, my mom dated guys I called “uncle” and we listened to Dylan on the old hi-fi; exactly what Berger’s middle class heroes and heroines experienced.

It’s only fitting that Berger’s books are a melange of black and white photography. Her books purport to bring kids out into the light of emotional freedom, yet they have a dark, sinister side upon closer inspection (or really just upon a quick glance). Check out “Stepchild”, which appears to be a sci-fi thriller mash-up about an evil alien, maybe, and serial-killer-looking kid who might also know all of the words to “Guys and Dolls.” Figure it out for yourself; I’m totally at a loss.

From the font to the colors to the picture, this book could be about damn near anything, as long as it's evil.

From the font to the colors to the picture, this book could be about damn near anything, as long as it's evil.

Coming to theatres near you. Don’t look behind you, it’s… STEPCHILD! He won’t be ignored any longer while you figure out which art opening to go to! No really, don’t look behind you. I’m pretty sure he has a knife hidden up his sleeve and that will make for a way more interesting book.
Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy. Until I kill you.

Lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy. Until I kill you.

“Hi, my name is David Miller and I’m angry. Not because my parents got divorced and my mom is dating this total tool. See, I’m Jewish and everyone expects me to be all funny and neurotic like Woody Allen. But I just want to take tap-dancing lessons.” (Note: David’s life takes another turn for the worse 30 years later when Jerry Seinfeld hits it big.)

 

Dear Lord, PLEASE let me meet Liza Minelli one day.

Dear Lord, PLEASE let me meet Liza Minnelli one day.

 No wonder Stepchild is such a cranky beast. He has to try to sleep each night with a bright light shining down on this face. If the effect is supposed to be “thoughtful innocent child”, it’s a big fat FAIL for Ms. Berger. He looks more like he’s receiving messages on the bloodiest way to kill his family from the neighbor’s dog hovering above his bed.

But I want to see "A Chorus Line" not "Jesus Christ, Superstar!" I will get totally "Kramer vs. Kramer" on you, mommy dearest.

But I want to see "A Chorus Line" not "Jesus Christ, Superstar!" I will get totally "Kramer vs. Kramer" on you, mommy dearest.

 “I don’t know how Mom got custody of me. She puts a box of cereal on the table and calls it ‘breakfast.’ I can totally guilt Dad into stopping at McDonald’s.  Why is the lighting in our apartment so harsh? I wonder if she’s found that decapitated mouse in her underwear drawer yet?”

The stuff that keeps Upper West Side therapists in their Vermont weekend homes.

The stuff that keeps Upper West Side therapists in their Vermont weekend homes.

Excellent how David connects his experience to literature. That will serve him well later at Sarah Lawrence. In fact, he could probably turn this in 10 years later for his Contemporary Freudian Post-Feminist Pre-Marxist Revisionist Modern Poetry class and score a total A+ for the authentically child-like voice and use of fairytale while exploring the nuances of identity in post-nuclear family structure.  I’d certainly love to hear this read aloud at a dingy coffee shop on a Monday night.

Score: Therapists-3, Future Chance for Successful Marriages-0
Score: Therapists-3, Future Chance for Successful Marriages-0

At least that tool Peter’s mother can be happy that he’s marrying a Jew this time around.

 
What do you do with a problem like Maria?
What do you do with a problem like Maria?

“Tell the truth, do these high-waisted jeans make me look fat? And, David, let’s not tell your mother than you saw me in Chelsea on Saturday, hmm?…Incidentally what were you doing with your DAD there?”

 
I wish I could say that “Stepchild” ends in a bloodbath after David uses that knife to stop chopping tomatoes. Sadly, it ends like all of these books do: with nothing clearly resolved except that the protagonist has vomited their feelings all over the book and are a little more self-aware now, if still self-centered. Sounds like Sunday brunch with three Bloody Marys.
Advertisements

3 Responses to “She’s baaaaack.”

  1. jess October 13, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    the simon & garkfunkel ref freakin’ killed me. thanks for making my day! : )

  2. Z December 13, 2009 at 12:35 am #

    I know Terry Berger (she’s my mom) and was especially offended by all the comments about her bourgeois sensibility.
    Divorce is not a class issue. It’s affecting no matter what a child’s situation is. She wrote about these topics because that’s what our family and many other families we knew
    were experiencing.
    You can look at any literature and poke fun at it because it looks dated and doesn’t seem relevant. But first try writing something original yourself.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Back when divorce sucked « Unintentionally Funny Books - October 13, 2009

    […] your chances for successful, satisfying relationships. Maybe you should try hooking up with David from Stepchild? You two can be crazy together.)   She starts a British punk band in the next […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: