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on February 2, 2006
Who needs James Frey making up sensationalistic details and calling it memoir when we have Bernard Cooper whose brilliant writing makes ordinary experience fantastic, who slows down the rush of time that constitutes our everyday lives to find the most poignant, most telling, most-in-danger-of-being-lost-forever moments and, in the telling, renders them sublime? If you want to see what memoir at its best is capable of, read The Bill from My Father. In it, Cooper captures the universal mysteriousness of having parents: how could these people be both so like us, and so completely foreign to us? How could they seem like both the only parents we could possibly have, and as arbitrary as if the stork dropped us by accident on their doorstep? This book is hysterically funny, terribly sad, and heart-achingly beautiful. Bravo.
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on June 4, 2006
Cooper published his memoir about his relationship with his father a full ten years after an editor suggested the topic. The editor was inspired by an essay Cooper published about his eccentric father, an essay the author desperately tried to hide from his father, for fear he would be enraged about its revelations. Cooper clearly agonized about his portrayal of his father--how do you talk about a flawed, angry, sarcastic, and eccentric man in a positive life, without demonizing him? Well, Mr. Cooper, if no one has said it to you yet, let me say it loud and clear: your love for your father shone throughout your prose, even as he billed you for $2 million dollars, even as he sued all your family members, and even as he wrote you off for minor offenses. As I reader, I came to love and respect your father, with all his quirks included.

Edward Cooper looms larger than life. His situation with the phone company reveals all--the author's father (Edward) had a thousand-dollar phone bill due to calling a televangelist recommended by his nurse/girlfriend, but he refused to pay it. He got embroiled in a months-long battle with the phone company, threatening litigation (Edward had been a famed Los Angeles divorce attorney back in the day). As a last resort, a phone company supervisor called Edward's son, our author, who was listened as an emergency contact on the account. The author wondered about the Edward's decision to list his sit-around-and-daydream/write son as a contact: "He couldn't have named a next door neighbor due to his long-standing feud with the neighbors on the right, because their sprinklers made the lawn soggy on his side of the property line, and with the neighbors on the left, because he was sure their automatic garage door opener vibrated powerfully enough to cause hairline cracks in our living room walls. Even if he's arrived at my name after excluding half of Los Angeles, I felt chosen, honored, exonerated." [p 77]

No summary of Bernard's complex relationship with his father and his decades-older brothers could do this book justice. Bernard was an accomplished writer before he embarked on the most challenging task of his career--portraying his father in the written word. All I can say it that you need to read this book, along with Josh Kilmer-Purcell's debut memoir.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 13, 2006
This book only goes to show that a parent can often seem like a complete stranger, baffling and mysterious. Bernard Cooper's father was a true enigma and it is up to Cooper to try and make some sense out of his very difficult relationship with his father, a man who can be extremely mean and, yes, abusive...but Cooper refuses to give up on him. This is one intense book and I only hope the shadow James Frey (A Million little Pieces) has thrown over the memoir genre doesn't keep people from reading this one.
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on October 23, 2014
This was a thoroughly entertaining and brilliantly written memoir. Being an information junkie, I seldom read purely for entertainment, and I almost never read memoirs, even when they are written by someone famous. However, I was instantly attracted to the poetic quality of Cooper's prose when I heard a chapter read aloud on an NPR program. I just had to get another dose of Cooper's amazing gift for our language.

The book is both funny and poignant, and offers some subtle yet profound insights about the wellspring of feelings that shape our all-too-human characters. The revealing story about the author's relationship with his father also provoked me to take a deeper look into myself. I'd give it six stars if I could.
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on February 22, 2014
Bernard Cooper's memoir is a 'stop everything in your life' reading experience. I bought a copy for my nephew and will continue to buy copies for all the readers in my life! Don't let this one pass you by! I heard about it through David Sedaris at one of his readings and he says it best when he says, 'don't buy my books. Buy Cooper's book.' And I did and am so thankful! Am now reading his essays. Thank you, Bernard Cooper, for your brilliance, your pathos, your humor and your candor and love!
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on June 11, 2006
In a sincere, humorous, yet deeply compassionate memoir, Cooper limns the complex relationship that all fathers and sons know too well. Without glossing over the inevitable conflicts, he offers a well-rounded portrait of his admittedly irascible and puzzling father, suggesting but never sentimentalizing the pain that lies at the core of their relationship. Cooper's eye for the telling detail has never been sharper, his courage as a memoirist never clearer. Essential reading for anyone who's ever been or had a parent.
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on July 9, 2015
Ok so now i have a bone to pick with Amazon. My first review was not bad, but it was declined - so we'll see if they accept this one.

This is a good, well written book. But, if you do not want to read about homosexuality, this is not a book for your family. While it is not the main subject of the book, it is a repeating topic.

and Amazon - I'm saying this to people JUST LIKE I WOULD review another book with a topic about rape or anything else that I recognize could be sensitive to a person.
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on December 11, 2013
Every once in a while a really gripping memoir comes along and you, the reader, nod your head and say to yourself 'Yes, I know that feeling' or 'Aren't all our loved ones have loveable quirks and failings?" This book is a real gem that is a beautiful nod to an unknowable father who is so very human that you fall in love with him, his polyester jumpsuit, his infuriating flaws and the love a son still holds for him. Gorgeous and gripping.
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on April 19, 2006
There are 2 writers whose next books I wait for, buy and gobble up right away, then re-read slower a few more times: One is David Foster Wallace and the other is Bernard Cooper.

_Bill from My Father_ flows with what I've come to think of as the standard "Cooperian" fluid, lucid prose. Mr. Cooper has an amazing ability to explore complicated interpersonal ties without ever losing me as a reader to sentimentality or gratuitously personal complications. (In this he reminds me a lot of George Eliot.) This is what I love most about his writing: he can write about soul-wrenching, heartbreaking emotions without ever slipping into schmaltz or any kind of "martyr-ish" undercurrent. I suspect that has something to do with his subtle and exact use of humor and irony. He never gets lazy and lapses into the so-called post-modern pose of irony for irony's sake.

I did recognize some ancedotes from _Year of Rhymes_ and _Truth Serum_ but as repeats, those didn't bother me at all. I actually liked them. That I already had mental images of his parents and his childhood in Los Angeles gave me a backdrop that made _Bill from_ even more emotionally accessable. Corny as it might be, the analogy fits: it was like learning more about a friend whom I already knew a little.

There is a lot of nobility in this book, and it's genuine. The real impact of the whole story came in slowly, bit by bit, recognizing the nobility and dignity of the uber-curmudgeon Edward Cooper and at the same time being somewhat in awe of the author's capacity for understanding and forgivness -- of both himself and his father.
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on April 19, 2013
fabulous book, would buy from this seller again in a heartbeat. This is the best book I have read in years. Cooper lets you feel like you live next door and know his family, and it touches your heart and soul.
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