In Daphne Merkin's latest memoir, "65 Billion Little Dollars," the author takes the reader through her story of addiction and neurosis, from her humble beginnings in Queens, New York where she was born into chattering middle class squalor as the younger sister of Bernie Madoff.
Early on as a child in the boroughs, Daphne tells us in this reminiscence, she realized that she suffered from AAD, attention addiction disorder. She ran away from home at age six, hopped on the subway to the City where she promptly was abducted by a family that ran a fundamentalist Orthodox Jewish cult out of a Park Avenue duplex on the Upper East Side.
Since childhood, Daphne says, she has been held captive by that cult and never allowed to travel north of 86th Street or south of 49th Street in Manhattan (although she has managed to clandestinely venture to the West Side) and frequently has been forced to spend long, boring, hot summers in Atlantic Beach.
Daphne movingly tells us how, as she grew up, she succumbed to her attention addiction and desperately turned to the only means at her disposal to achieve the spotlight she so craved -- writing increasingly outrageous newspaper articles about petty sexual perversions.
To feed her AAD, Daphne explains in her memoir that she has published an endless series of works wherein she imagined herself in a series of soft pornographic scenarios ranging from sado-masochistic yearnings of spankings to the neo-nazi dream sequences of Hitler, with stops along the way at just plain dirty talking, exhibitionism and voyeurism.
In her brand new literary work, Daphne proclaims that she exhibits wide sweeps of Jewish angst and guilt because she suffers from a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome, called in the psychological literature the Five-Towns Syndrome, wherein as a kidnapped captive she adopts the neuroses of her cult masters as her own.
Our favorite chapters in this exotic work included of course the vivid fantasy scenario of Daphne's run-in with the Atlantic Beach authorities for her attempt at nude sunbathing on the public beach. She describes how she valiantly defends herself in the town court against an outrageous "faulty headlights" citation that the constable issued to her for her violation of the local codes. In the tale, the town judge refuses to accept her steadfast contention that the entry sign at the boardwalk actually said, "Pubic Beach."
In the next chapter's imaginative tour de force, Daphne recounts her pick-up basketball game with Madonna and George Soros in the playground at First Avenue and 68th Street and their subsequent torrid threesome back at the Pierre Hotel. The hedonistic romp that ensued lasted for a week and included hours on end of kinky discussions about the three celebrities' unquenchable thirsts for money and their insatiable addictions to constant media attention, an orgy that was punctuated by many hearty kosher meal breaks, replete with matzo ball soup all delivered from the nearby Mendy's deli.
Do we have a favorite passage? It has to be the Passover Seder scene, recollected in its own deep and colorful narrative chapter by Daphne from her teen years. She fondly recalls especially the annotated Haggadah the Merkins used at their Passover table with some rather unique text.
The Four Questions, for instance, started with the family variant, "Why is this fund different from all the other funds?" The Four archetype sons in the Seder liturgy also appeared in variant form as: The Ponzi Son, The Feeder Son, the Felon Son, and the Casualty Son.
All told this new memoir, "65 Billion Little Dollars" takes its rightful place in the literary memoir landscape -- next to James Frey's famous tome of a similar title. We will look for Daphne to make her very own apology on Oprah real soon now. //repost from 3-2009//
Book-Mock: Daphne Merkin on Jews and Money, "65 Billion Little Dollars"
We like this incisive review of "65 Billion Little Dollars" -- Daphne Merkin's astounding new book about Jews and Money. It's by critic David Nudnik from the popular literary site the Onion Bagel: