Fiction Andrew Bergman Sleepless Nights

ISBN 13: 9781556114007

Sleepless Nights

3.57 avg rating
( 7 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781556114007: Sleepless Nights

A provocative look at a family's psychological underside chronicles the fortunes of a Jewish family in which the parents are Holocaust survivors, centering on the incestuous relationships that develop between the son and his mother and his sister.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

From successful screenwriter Bergman (Blazing Saddles, etc.) comes a novel about double incest in Queens during the 1950s. Skipping back and forth in time, the text chronicles the life of Robert Weisglass, who is not only seduced by the beautiful older sister with whom he shares a bedroom, but is also pressured into having sex with his mother. His father, a kindly if remote figure, seems permanently out to lunch, totally unaware of the ravening sexual appetites the women in his family possess. Understandably, Robbie develops into a fretful and anxious young man whose only satisfying romantic liaison is with a girl who dies tragically young of leukemia. Intercut with the vividly written childhood scenes are episodes showing the adult Robert in the office of his psychiatrist, confronting his mother and sister with their transgressions, and dealing with the eventual death of his parents. Recovery of a sort takes place with his marriage to an incest survivor with whom he has a child. While the writing is of a high caliber and the scenes from childhood are palpable and gripping, the novel fails to meet its own emotional demands. The juxtaposition of youthful episodes with those from the adult road to recovery speeds the novel along too quickly; escape and redemption are shown as possibilities before we've felt the choking weight of Robbie's claustrophobic, airless childhood. Also, the young woman who becomes his wife is a two-dimensional embodiment of some self-help fantasy. The characterizations, indeed the whole novel, seem to be written in shorthand, as though they were awaiting dazzling camera images to flesh them out. Bergman shows some real gifts as a writer, but he needs to slow down and let the power of the world he is capable of creating truly overtake the reader. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

The underside of a seemingly refined and respectable German-Jewish family living in Manhattan is trenchantly observed in this novel from Bergman, a mystery author ( Hollywood and Levine ) and screenwriter ( Blazing Saddles ), who here gives new dimensions to the term "dysfunctional family." Narrator Robby Weisglass is only 12 in 1955 when his 22-year-old sister Carol, a lingerie model, seduces him, and it isn't much later that his mother, who has been openly provocative for years, walks into his room and initiates sex. Thirty years pass and Robby, now an admired professor of history at Columbia and a 20-year veteran of psychotherapy, is deeply ambivalent toward his family, riddled with guilt and unable to form lasting relationships. The author approaches his theme of incest in a convincingly analytical fashion, with much introspection by the promiscuous Carol and long sessions on the psychiatrist's couch for Robby; as children of Holocaust survivors, they have special problems to grapple with. Throughout, Bergman uses a biting wit and a firm knowledge of Jewish family dynamics to bring out the best--and the worst--in the Weisglass menage. A mordant glimpse of the family's generational and cultural gaps is rendered when, in 1951, they all lunch in the crowded but sedate dining room of a "gentile" resort. Carol declares in delight, "This is real America"--to which her mother retorts, "And that's so wonderful?" Black humor, keen insight and an uncompromising eye make for fine reading here.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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