Happy Pills

15831621Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Bernadette Fox might just be the craziest person I have never met. If she consumed enough “happy” pills to actually become a fully-functioning member of society, she’d end up comatose from an overdose and spend the next six years of her life breathing through a respirator. Calling her eccentric gives Randy Quaid, Charlie Sheen, and Courtney Love a bad name. Or to put it another way, Bernadette Fox makes Adrian Monk look like Tom Brady.

Audrey Griffin needs to be treated with electric shock therapy until she ejaculates her back teeth. And her son Kyle (he’s 15), at the age of 21, will be in prison for the rest of his natural life or his body parts will be tossed into storm gutters and unmarked graves. Oh, and Mrs. Griffin probably should experience a form of hell. In her case, she should be forced to sit in front of a TV with headphones on and have her highlight reel played for her on repeat until her ears and eyes bleed.

Holy fuckballs! This may be the most insane novel I’ve ever read. It’s hard for me to ascertain its exact level of brilliance because I feel like I need to be in a straitjacket, hooked up to an electric chair, while wearing a metal helmet and a metal diaper.

Composed entirely of emails, report cards, receipts, random musings, rants, raves, Bee’s voice, Bernadette’s history, and the preparations for a family trip to Antarctica that are being conducted by an Indian named Manjula Kapoor via the Internet, the first several parts had me entertained and enthralled and nearly hypnotized with delusions of madness and mayhem. There’s a dog named Ice Cream, a friend named Kennedy, a husband named Elgie, the astute services of Delhi Virtual Assistants International, a giant mud sliding billboard, traumatized kindergartners (with possible PTSD), psychotic breaks, selfish and self-pitying delusions of grandeur, and the former home of the Straight Gate School for Girls (the Fox/Branch residence) that probably should have been condemned sometime in the past decade.

Like the rest of WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE, the ending proved zany and whacky and maybe a bit farfetched. But I didn’t like it. In fact, I hated it with a passion, and wanted to beat it with a baseball bat, and then wait till it stood up, and then proceed to whack it again. *BEGIN SPOILER* You fled to Antarctica and then the only communication with your fifteen year-old daughter is a letter that she never received, and then to dump the entire contents of your life onto her via a large unmarked envelope. And then to place sole blame for all of your marital problems on your husband, while you sleepwalked through an entire marriage. Seriously? *END SPOILER*

So if you like Seinfeld and Arrested Development (and if you don’t, I feel sorry for your loss, and you probably deserve a hug), then you might just find yourself enjoying this novel.

Leave a Reply