Senseless behavior—that’s mishegas. According to Harley Dresner, it means life with overbearing, obstreperous, melodramatic parents and a pugilistic, caffeine-addicted, octogenarian uncle. Blend Jerry Seinfeld’s and Raymond Barone’s parents together. The result is the Vesuvian mess that Dresner calls his family. Social graces are callously thrown to the Las Vegas desert wind when Gerry and Uncle Bernard offend everyone from hotel receptionists to street hookers in chapters like “Even Leona Helmsley Would Have Apologized” and “Henry Ford Would Have Had a Stroke.” Along the way, flashbacks to Dresner’s past provide decades of head-banging material as he goes “Wasting Away in Geriatricville.” Restaurant etiquette ends up with food scraps in the dumpster when blind patrons are unabashedly insulted. Doctoring for sport becomes a new American pastime through obsessions with colonoscopies and wars waged against mucous and phlegm. Dresner’s unmistakable, take-no-prisoners sarcasm and wit shine through this dysfunctional Cruise to Nowhere. His memoir is a fresh, laugh-out-loud study of life-long relationships that proves one can embrace familial roots while maintaining perspective—and sanity. Readers will revel in the uncomfortable, squirming circumstances in which a family routinely embroils a child. Anyone who wouldn’t dream of running away from the family they would love to escape understands Mishegas.
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