Raskin’s follow-up to Little New York Bastard (2003) chronicles his symbiotic relationship with his cancer-stricken mother.
MDR, as his friends call him, is a scabrous, rather negative young man from Queens. Mind you, he has a right to be negative: His father is dead and his mother is terminally ill. As his mother disintegrates into mental and physical decrepitude, the author does everything he can to help her, including arranging an escape to the upstate retreat of Lake George. Separated into three sections, this fragmented and elliptical memoir maintains a roughly chronological order. In the end, it chronicles not so much a sequence of events as an overarching, universal emotional journey. Raskin’s first book was compared to Catcher in the Rye, which is an insult to J.D. Salinger. At best, Raskin is a star high-school writer, caustic and sarcastic, with a flair for an insulting sentence. His repeated use of outdated exclamations like “Goddamn” and “I got a real charge out of it” don’t ring true. Still, if Raskin’s prose is unoriginal, some of his comments are refreshing, in particular his dissection of the absurdity of everyday mores and several passages about petty bureaucracy. Often, however, the bitter sarcasm about life’s banalities overshadows the core story, exposing Raskin’s limitations as a writer.
A tragic tale hampered by sarcastic, sub–Holden Caulfield commentary that fails to resonate emotionally.