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Over the next 20 years, Stanley will go from catatonia to a semblance of normality (so long as there's no woman in sight and no sharp cutlery on the table). Eddie, however, will never play the leading role he'd envisioned, instead taking refuge in alcohol and recollections of the one woman he thinks he has let get away, the plainspoken, explosive Giovannella Dimucci. When Eddie first describes his patient's violent response to women, "he wondered if he'd gone too far, if he'd shocked her, but the mask dissolved and she leaned in close, her hand on his elbow. 'Sounds like the average man to me.'" As for Katherine McCormick, she will still visit every Christmas, hoping to at least see her husband if she can't see him get better.
Based on a true story, Riven Rock is unclassifiable, a discomforting and often hilarious mix of tragedy and comedy. (Only Orson Welles could do the book justice on film.) T. C. Boyle writes in a controlled frenzy of rich description and dialogue, pulling us up sharply each time we begin to wonder if his patient isn't a helpless victim. Eddie recalls one nurse before Stanley "got to her": "She was a shadow in a back corner of his mind, a cat you pick up to stroke and then put down again when it stops purring.... Now she was back in Rhode Island, with her mother, but the look of her that day, the way her eyes had melted away to nothing and the color had gone out of her so you could see every lash and hair on her head like brushstrokes in oil, came to him in infinite sadness."
Boyle has great empathy, but there is no avoiding his novel's comic energy. Stanley's first psychiatrist-jailer, Dr. Hamilton, is obsessed with primate sexuality and will go to Riven Rock only if Katherine funds a large living laboratory. He spends all of his time watching the imprisoned creatures copulate, a pathetic counterpoint to his patient's plight. The sight of the disheveled doctor following one animal encounter amuses even the suspicious Katherine. "To his credit, the doctor laughed too. And O'Kane, the bruiser, who'd gone absolutely pale at the tiny hominoids that couldn't have weighed a twentieth of what he did, joined in, albeit belatedly and with a laugh that trailed off into a whinny." Alas, all goes awry when Hamilton takes the joke too far and declares his chimps "the very devils--they're even worse than my patients." Riven Rock is a maximum-velocity study of love, primal energy, and what is sacrosanct in society: control. It is also about loyalty, absurdity, domesticity, and depravity, all of which, Boyle knows, coexist within the best of souls. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I feel rather sheepish to say that despite my long career as a reading fanatic, "Riven Rock" was my maiden introduction to T.C. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ellie Norton
Somewhat inconsistent. Some very good. Some not so much. Just sort of ends without resolving much. Maybe that's the point and I'm not a sophisticated reader.Published 2 months ago by terry
Interesting look at a piece of US history and the treatment of those with mental health issues. A whole book could be written about Mrs. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Liz
I thought it could have used a bit of editing. The last half seemed to drag on and on.Published 4 months ago by Mary E. Cody
An interesting story, especially as I grew up in Santa Barbara descended from long term residents and had always heard tales of the crazy McCormicks up at Riven Rock. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Berta
some dirty pages...too many for the "new" option.Published 10 months ago by Bernhard Recklinghausen
Not one of TC Boyle's best books. I enjoyed his others. Too fragmented it was difficult to follow the plot.Published 11 months ago by M. Hull
But too long - I cannot figure out how authors and editors let a great tale get blemished by an extra 75 pages that do not add much value.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
Eddie O'Kane has a drinking problem and has been know to strike a woman. His employer, Stanley McCormick, youngest son of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the reaper, also has a... Read morePublished on October 27, 2013 by Patti