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The Surgeon's Mate: A Dismemoir Paperback – March 1, 2016
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From the Author
THE SURGEON'S MATE: A DISMEMOIR is about my relationship with a hallucination I had in 1989 while ill with brain abscesses. Although the vivid vision, which included a mysterious and clearly dangerous visitor, was a product of imagination and illness, I decided to write a novel in which the visitation was real and presented deadly consequences for my life.
I consider it a "stealth" volume within my Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel within the series is a stand-alone story. The books can be read in any order.
Top customer reviews
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The book alternates between the narratives of Aiden Clark, illustrator and writer in contemporary America, and Frederick, a surgeon's mate and serial killer in Victorian London. Aiden experiences seizures that cause him to hallucinate that he is Frederick, although he doesn't realize what is happening, or that he is actually inhabiting Frederick's mind, until near the end of the novel. The tension created by the alternating points of view, and the opposing life trajectories of the two characters--Aiden starts off as an alcoholic, but then sobers up, saving his career and his marriage, while Frederick sinks further and further into depravity--builds and builds to a climax that plunges the characters into a confrontation in Jack the Ripper's London.
The prose is spare but evocative, whether depicting Aiden's largely idyllic Tennessee childhood or Frederick's grim and grimy existence in 19th-century London. Readers should note that there are explicit scenes of death and dismemberment--this is a story about a serial killer, after all!--but the main thrust of the work is Aiden's struggles with his addiction and his pull towards the dark side of human nature. As someone who's always enjoyed the macabre and who has made a living out of writing and illustrating horror fiction, he is both connected to and repelled by his alter ego Frederick, and is forced to explore his own interest in the dark and gory. Not the lightest of subject matters, but the clean prose style and the ultimately uplifting trajectory of Aiden's own story make this a swift yet satisfying read.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. If you are at all familiar with the disturbing and disturbingly beautiful art of Alan M Clark, you know that he has a talent for painting horror. In The Surgeon's Mate: A Dismemoir, he paints horror with words.
I recommend this book.
Before reading Clark’s “Of Thimble and Threat” a few years ago, I never thought that historical fiction could be something so innovative and exciting. The Surgeon’s Mate has had the same effect on me, standing out among the books I have read.