Major Story Arcs
Martin Bernbaum is a Jew who lives in Brooklyn and is married to Esther. He works as a trash collector. In his early manhood he tries to enlist in World War II, but is rejected for physical reasons. He takes this as a personal insult for a long time afterwards.
In 1946, he and Esther have a daughter, Sheila Fay. Her blue eyes remind him of his insane dead sister, "Mad Aunt Ettie." Sheila does in fact grow up to be just the same kind of rebellious, artistic, internalized child that Ettie was. In her twenties she becomes a hippie and drops out of society, taking the name Sunflower. She is eventually kidnapped by the aliens known as the G'L-Doses, who being her to the Zoo. One of them marries her and they have a son, Martin's grandson, Moonshadow.
While she is still a child, however, she had a close relationship with her father. Once, when she is nine, a girl friend shows Sheila a stag film; when Martin finds out he goes over and yells at the other girl's dad protectively. They would often take walks, eat Jewish delicacies, and talk about philosophy. Seeing himself as a realist, a sample piece of philosophy he would share with his young daughter might include, "You're born, you die, and that's it. There's no Heaven or Hell--just a tombstone with your name on it. You're in the ground--and you're NOTHING." (It is perhaps not surprising that she went forth in life to find what meaning she could in drugs and free love.) They also often happily watched TV together as a family.
Although Martin was usually the sane one in the family, even he had a yearly bout of insanity that would scare his family and neighbors with its intensity.
Since Moonshadow is born after Sunflower is abducted, he never meets Martin, but hears many stories of him from his mother. Moon long feels the absence of a father and often searches for a father figure in his life; the stories of Martin Berbaum often fill in for this position.