"Amy's Answering Machine" by Amy Borkowsky (Pocket Books, $14.95).
(Beep.) "Yeah, hello, Amila. They just said on TV, 'It's 10 p.m., do you know where your children are?' And I'm thinking, I don't know, so I figured I'd call you, mamascheinz. You must be in the bathroom or something. Give me a buzz when you're done, OK? All right, bye-bye."
(Beep.) "Amila? It's 5 to 11, and I know you have work tomorrow. I'm getting a little worried. Call me when you get this message, honey. OK, bye-bye."
(Beep.) "Hello, Miss Borkowsky? Hi, I'm calling from NYU Hospital. Someone called here claiming to be your mother and wanting to know if you'd been admitted."
Amy Borkowsky loves her mother. And Amy's mother loves her mamascheinz. If that was not so clearly the basis for Amy's collection of answering messages from her mother, the book would be little more than an extended Jewish-mother joke. As it is, the book, expanded from a CD collection of 28 real taped messages, is simply a laugh-out-loud meditation on a mother's constant, at times irritating, but always loving, presence in her child's life.
That Borkowsky is no longer a child -- she built a successful advertising career before focusing full time on comedy -- is of little relevance to Mom. There are successful Jewish bachelors to find (by calling a TV talk show on her behalf). And there are the health warnings, including the dangers of underwire bras, lambskin condoms and the color red.
Some of the funniest bits in "Amy's Answering Machine" are Borkowsky's commentary and mother-related projects. The book contains an appendix of "100% Foolproof Tips for Handling a Mother Who Calls Too Much," which, she notes, "will not be found here or anywhere else. Sorry." Readers will also enjoy a short Yiddish glossary and the plot outlines for a new TV medical drama entitled "m-o-t-h-ER."
So how does Amy's mom feel about a book of her messages? Says Amy, "She still can't really believe that other people would pay money to hear what she has to say, when I won't listen to her for free."
The CD version of "Amy's Answering Machine" is available only at www.sendamy.com .