Monday, August 22, 2016


I found out about Thomas Berger by accident at the local library in my early teens.   Luckily, the first book I discovered by him was NEIGHBORS. Definitely the place to start.  Pissed off, surreal, bleak, borderline psychotic - a definite roller coaster ride of a novel.  Never saw the movie but, from everything I've read, it takes a lot of liberties with the book.  Usually not a good thing.

I still haven't got around to LITTLE BIG MAN, it's my own fault, I'm sure I will someday.

I actually didn't realize Berger was American when I started reading him.  He has a very formal approach to language, which seems at odds with the characters and situations he writes about.  The books feel like they were written in a different language and then translated by a very literal-minded person, or maybe written in English by some one who had learned it as a 3rd or 4th language.  He definitely sounds like no one else.

SNEAKY PEOPLE and THE FEUD were two other Berger books I read early, I can't recommend them enough.  Farce, black humor, comedies of manner and misunderstanding, all very savage and biting.

Some of his later stuff was a little tepid, but the guy was in his 70s by then, so we'll cut him some slack. 

NOWHERE has a sort of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS vibe to it and, if I recall, the same main character as WHO IS TEDDY VILLANOVA?.  They both try a little hard, but they're not bad.

THE HOUSEGUEST, SUSPECTS and MEETING EVIL are all pretty ferocious, if I remember correctly.  Among his better ones.  The last two were very dark, THE HOUSEGUEST, again, more of a comedy of manners and errors.

BEING INVISIBLE and CHANGING THE PAST were both a little calmer, I think, not quite as viciously bleak as some of his work.

The libraries around my current hometown all seem to have purged a majority of Berger's work from their collections, so I haven't read some of them in 15 years or so.  Time to start trolling the used bookstores and Amazon.

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