Books by Daniel Stern

Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"A unique, voyeuristic expose of a taboo bedroom counterculture."
Los Angeles screenwriter Stern penetrates the unconventional world of swinging. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 10, 2001

"Figures lifted from your own past and held up to the eye, molten with light. "
Eleven short stories as refreshing as brook water from veteran Stern (Twice Told Tales, 1990, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1998

A serious psychological foray into What to Expect When You're Expecting territory. Psychiatrist Stern (The Diary of a Baby, 1990, etc.) presents a thoughtful guide to the psychological impact of motherhood. Following the expecting and new mother through the various stages of her experience—creating an imaginary baby while pregnant, feelings of inadequacy and contentment that come after the birth, planning the baby's future, determining whether to go back to work—the authors explain what is happening to her psychologically and emotionally. They demonstrate how each phase of the process contributes to the birth of the ``motherhood mindset,'' a new state of mind that puts her role as mother before all else (Stern's theory runs counter to traditional psychological beliefs that we retain one mindset, or ``basic psychic organization,'' throughout our lives). Stories of individual women, in particular three whom the authors follow from their sixth month of pregnancy, resonate strongly in parts, and all women will find aspects of their own life, as either a mother or child, in this generally soothing study. Especially interesting are the sections that explore the changing relationship of the new mother to her own mother, the expectations parents place on their children (as peacemakers or antidepressants, for example), and the importance of fantasies as a first step in establishing the motherhood mindset. The work-and-family question, however, is handled perfunctorily, and while the authors are generally careful about not judging new mothers, they have no understanding for mothers who choose to work when they are not financially obliged to. Although too slim to fully explore the psychological development of mothers, this book offers key insights into the process. Read full book review >
TWICE UPON A TIME by Daniel Stern
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

Stern (An Urban Affair, 1980, etc.), a polished and generous writer in his novels, has developed a small literary vaudeville act. In 1989's Twice Told Tales, and in this new collection, he has taken as a premise that books ``could be basic to a fiction; as basic as a love affair, a trauma, a house, a mother, a landscape, a lover, a job, or a sexual passion.'' Like homages to recently fashionable critical ideas (the erotics of reading, reader-response theory), the six stories here choose poems or novels, even The Communist Manifesto, to be pivots around which the characters directly spin—and which they indirectly reconstitute. The artifice is stifling. Except for one, the stories bob around in their literary brines unable to address anything beyond the radius of a creative-writing workshop. The only one that truly works—``Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville'': a hack screenwriter's final noncompliance—works because it speaks of Hollywood knowledge, and of people caught, even destroyed by, that knowledge. Nothing else in the book has this emotional reflux. Careful but charmless. Read full book review >
TWICE TOLD TALES by Daniel Stern
Released: June 12, 1989

From prolific novelist Stern (The Suicide Academy, Final Cut, An Urban Affair, etc.) come six short stories, each in some way built upon, or paying homage to, a well-known masterwork of modern literature. The uneven results range from the strained and thin to the richly hilarious. Weakest here may be "A Clean Well-Lighted Place by Ernest Hemingway" (about failed—and ludicrous—plans to make a movie of the famous story), with its tendency only to parody the cheaper aspects of Hemingway rather than celebrate the richer. Smooth but slight is "The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud" (a couple discovers patterns of deaths in each of their erotic pasts); and, though touched by the style and plottings of the master, "Brooksmith by Henry James" remains contrived and meager in its contemporary metamorphosis (a teacher meets, in later life, an ex-student who has managed to rise from the ghetto). More complex on its own fictional terms (and salted with the insider lore of New York publishing) is "Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster," in which a wheelchair-bound editor struggles brilliantly as midwife to a novel by an unlettered but tale-burdened Vietnam vet. Opening the volume is another archetypally New Yorkish story—"The Liberal Tradition by Lionel Trilling"—evoking wonderfully and with comic sadness the heady days of boundless liberal intellectualism in the late 1940's (a starry-eyed girl from Illinois comes to New York to find literature among the Jewish intellectuals—and ends up, for openers, at a dinner party at the Trillings'). And closing the volume is "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life"—the touching, madcap sequel to the first piece: a name-dropper's seriocomic paradise that tells the story of a baby who's raised (her depressed mother "forgets" her there) in the coat room of the Russian Tea Room; brings to life for a lovely minute or two every classic type of artistic, Broadway, or show-biz aspirant you can imagine; that manages to sing the song of what New York once was (and may be still); and that makes you, once or twice, laugh right out loud. Uneven pieces, but, at their best, treasurable, loving, and very, very fine. Read full book review >