NEW YORK SON by Mike Feder


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Reading these monologues/stories by Feder is like being stuck between stations on the subway with an insane--and possibly dangerous-looking--individual who turns out to be not only funny, likable, and intelligent, but eager to turn himself inside-out for your entertainment; and, though this wasn't what you were looking for when you got on the subway, it's a better situation than it might have been: when the train starts up again, you decide to stick around for a few extra stops. Each of these pieces takes a subject of some personal intensity: Feder's overbearing, psychosomatic, and ultimately suicidal mother is often present; in ""The Fishing Trip,"" Feder visits his mostly absent man's-man of a father, and achieves a long-missing bond; his stay in a psychiatric hospital is a source of material, as are his ill-fated Antigua honeymoon and a trip to a psychic; in ""Marilyn,"" Feder watches as a high-school girlfriend journeys unhappily through cultural turbulence. Derived from monologues delivered on Feder's WBAI (N.Y.C.) weekly radio show, each piece is as much the product of an experienced analysand as it is that of a talented storyteller. They amble this way and that, heading, however indirectly, toward an epiphany, an illuminating understanding as useful to the teller as is to his audience. The obvious comparison is to Woody Allen, the secularized Jew attempting to make sense of an absurd and painful world through humor; but Feder's work is grimmer, sharper, riskier than Allen's, closer to the early black comedies of Bruce Jay Friedman, Stern and A Mother's Kisses.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1988
Publisher: Crown