Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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Prolific novelist Berger (The Feud, Little Big Man) updates the Pygmalion myth with this witty, dark comedy: instead of a lovely Galatea, the protagonist's manufactured dream girl becomes a Frankenstein's monster through her ambition. Ellery Pierce, a twice-divorced animatronics technician, can't find a woman devoid of sarcasm and opinion, so he builds a companion from synthetic skin, batteries and bolts. But Phyllis, his near-perfect female replica, learns quickly and, absorbing the mass media ideal for beautiful young women, runs off to pursue a career in show business. Rising quickly above a stint as a stripper, a phone sex operator and a smalltown actress, Phyllis evolves into a cinema superstar. But when the action movie-going public tires of Phyllis, and the depressed Ellery comes back into her life, she sets her sights on international fame through another venue: the presidency of the United States. With her alternately colloquial and overly formal diction, and her too-faithful adherence to society's ideals, Phyllis makes for an amusing critique of contemporary American society. In his 23rd novel, Berger skewers modern foibles from reality and daytime television to the cult of celebrity and presidents with voracious sexual appetites. But the brilliance of Berger's critique is in its levity, and his fanciful plot will keep readers laughing throughout. With few weaknesses, such as the unexplained existence of other robots, this book is the literary equivalent of cotton candy: not filling but fun to digest. Agent, Don Congdon. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

In his twenty-third novel, Berger ( Little Big Man0 , 1964) crafts a satirical look at the American pursuit of perfection. Technician Ellery Pierce, unable to sustain a long-lasting relationship, puts his skills to use building a robot to be his perfect wife. However, Phyllis quickly outruns Ellery's limited ambitions, taking all of a day to become a gourmet cook. She leaves him for a job as a phone sex operator, where her literal-mindedness is her undoing. She then lands a starring role in a nude version of Macbeth, 0 which 0 launches her career in mainstream action films. Meanwhile, Ellery, bereft at her desertion, tracks her down, and the two engineer a plan for her to run for the White House. Berger is technically adept here and quite amusing, even scathing, in spots, about the hypocrisy of male-female relations and Hollywood avarice, but his story is overly familiar, echoing the plot of The0 Stepford Wives0 and both the real life and the film roles of Arnold Schwarzenegger. A hit-and-miss affair, but Berger's name will draw some interest. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2004 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Little Big Woman? Ellery Pierce is sick of today's sassy, liberated women, and so, Pygmalion-like, he uses his skills as an animatronics technician to create a perfectly slavish sex kitten of a wife. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Ellery Pierce, an expert at animatronics, has decided to forgo the usual pitfalls of human companionship by creating his ideal woman from scratch. This Frankenstein is named Phyllis, and soon she decides to strike out on her own for a career in show business. Phyllis works her way up the seedy ladder of the sex industry and eventually becomes a successful action movie star. Ellery, however, pines for the robot he let get away, and as Phyllis's career begins to slide into oblivion, the two rejoin to take her vocation in a political direction. As Phyllis advances toward the White House, she starts developing more human attributes, causing Ellery to wonder what will happen to the free world when it is being ruled by an apparatus with a bad attitude. Berger (Little Big Man) is a prolific and talented author, but his skills are wasted on this slight effort. A potentially astute examination of the relationship of the self to machines ultimately verges on becoming a misogynistic trifle. Recommended only for comprehensive literature collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-David Hellman, San Francisco State Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.