IT CAN'T BE HELPED by Benjamin Lee


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This opens with a hilarious scene at Max's father's burial; and as the British highschooler muddles his way through further disasters, the laughs tumble over one another. His mother is mad and hospitalized; his aunt and uncle kick him out of their home when their daughter tells them Max has made her pregnant (he has to check with the encyclopedia to make sure that he couldn't have); a girl he's admired through both their bedroom windows takes him home but the solid comfort of the family meal there sends him wailing onto the street; a Marx-spouting Communist classmate disrupts his interview with the principal in a knockout scene that stoops to every low form of humor; then the same kid takes off with the girl. Max's ignorance about sex and his candor in discussing it with all and sundry (including the cleaning woman from the mental hospital) are not to be believed at a realistic level; nor is the easy-fix ending. What matters is that Max, a sort of archetypal black-comic naive, just as typically cast adrift, does see the madness through--and that Lee makes it all uproarious.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1979
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux