by Bernard Cooper
In The Bill from My Father, Bernard Cooper takes a familiar trope—a complex and unreliable parent—and gives it a unique spin as he looks back on his stormy relationship with his father. Edward Cooper was a prominent Los Angeles divorce attorney, once seemingly invincible (at least to the author) but now sinking into dementia, whose constant philandering was hardly a secret from his sons (or presumably, his wife). Now, with his mother and all three of his older brothers dead, Cooper attempts to understand the complicated bond with this most difficult man, which means trying to come to grips with his father’s strong disapproval of both his choice of career as a writer (the elder Cooper wanted Bernard to become a lawyer, as all three of his brothers did) and his homosexuality. As you might imagine, the father/son relationship did not noticeably improve when his father sent him a bill for nearly 2 million dollars—the cost of raising him. This moving account is liberally leavened with humor and never morphs into the oh-poor-me school of autobiography.