Neshama’s Choices for June 6th

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Mermaid Confidential

Another romp with amped up Serge and his goofy sidekick Coleman as they try out condo life after years on the road throughout Florida. Serge takes on villains in his inimitable fashion: the insurance industry, and medical scammers—well-deserved targets. Lots of smuggling goes on and an interesting relationship develops between an aging drug lord and a hospice nurse that eventually yields good works.  But what mayhem ensues in the meantime. One pleasure of Dorsey’s work: lots of quirky historical background. Fun!  

Activities of Daily Living

Two themes intersect close to my heart: dementia and performance art. Alice’s father in Berkeley is struggling. She lives in Brooklyn but flies out frequently to grope through the maze of his increasing needs and very imperfect remedies. She’s also embarked on a project to document the work of a real-life performance artist who has set himself very stark, demanding tasks (like the work of Marina Abramovic). His obsession: how to pass time. Lots of ironies here, illustrated with forays into art, philosophy, and literature. Mordant humor as well: the acronym for the eponymous tasks: Dressing, Eating, Ambulating, Toileting, Hygiene. Yes, DEATH.  

Tasha

Subtitled a son’s memoir. Morton characterized his mom in his first novel as a grotesque figure but here wants to set the record straight. She remains an incredible character: loud, stubborn, and disorganized but also a brilliant visionary—back then. Because now, after a stroke, she’s a mess and so is her house, a typical hoarder’s lair. Much self-reflection and remorse (what if…) but you do what you can. Straight-forward, conversational, very moving.  

Left on Tenth

Subtitled A Second Chance at Life.  What we’d all like, but here at such cost. Her husband Jerry died of prostate cancer.  Richard contacted her in response to her revelatory piece in The New York Times.  Turns out they knew each other way back when. As they remade their acquaintance, they discovered they were Bashert (soulmates). But then a dreadful form of leukemia struck Ephron, the same that killed her sister Nora. She went through agonizing treatments with the help of a brilliant doctor and the unflinching support of Richard and friends through times so dark she was ready to give up. And even, as we see here, could start writing again, for which we are grateful. Poignant and candid. 

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