In the March Atlantic, Sandra Tsing Loh dazzlingly and hilariously reviews three books about caring for aging parents. (But it’s really an essay about her own father’s disintegration and her sense of responsibility to him. It’s a laugh-out-loud and wrenching dark comedy and I, who’ve never read her before, am now madly in love.)
One of the books Loh reviews is The Bill From My Father, by Bernard Cooper. It’s a memoir which, Loh writes, is “one of the best memoirs I have ever read…”
The title comes from the day Cooper received a bill from his lawyer father, typed on his customary onionskin paper, demanding immediate reimbursement for parenting outlays (including an entire childhood’s worth of groceries and clothing) in the amount of $2 million. Cooper Sr. escalated the pain, upon his other sons’ deaths, by not just sending their widows bills but filing actual lawsuits against them.
Still, Cooper continues to have an on-again, off-again relationship with Cooper the Elder (whose history with his sons can be summed up by the progression of painted signs on the front of his law-office door, as telling as a piece of concrete poetry: COOPER; COOPER & COOPER; COOPER, COOPER & COOPER; COOPER, COOPER, COOPER & COOPER; COOPER, COOPER & COOPER; COOPER & COOPER; COOPER).
I give you this, I guess, because I’m in a rare, jaundiced mood about lawyers. Although none of them, including my foot lawyers, is as horrific as is Cooper the Elder. Yet.