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Customer Review

on February 6, 2009

"You [the main character] also dwelled on a certain question a lot; the question of what had gone wrong. I mean why were you in a hospital being treated like an incompetent? After all, you came from a good home with a normal upbringing, you went to good schools, you married well, had plenty of money, plenty of friends, all the comforts, and you got promotion after promotion and had risen quite high. So how did you come to a [psychiatric] hospital? It was a question you couldn't answer. It was, as you see now, unanswerable..."

This above is found in this fascinating novel by Timothy V. Richardson. There is no information about Richardson included in the book but an Internet search reveals that he was originally trained as an educator and psychologist but for more than twenty-five years has been a writer and accomplished poet.

This novel contains the internal rambling ruminations of its main character, a patient with a psychopathology or mental disorder, who struggles to satisfactorily answer to himself many, many questions (not just the one posed above). These ruminations blend Richardson's experience in psychology with his experience as a poet and writer.

These internal ruminations are composed with a tension and rhythm of a musical composition called a concerto. One definition of a concerto is that it is a musical work for one or more voices with instrumental accompaniment. Thus, the subtitle of this novel (not indicated on the book's cover but indicated on the novel's second inside title page) is "Concerto for Voice and Voices."

(Note that a concerto is usually divided into three parts or movements and therefore this novel is divided into three movements with each movement having chapters entitled introduction, exposition, development, and coda.)

This novel is not an easy read. This is not because of the writing which is superb and realistically captures the essence of a person with a psychopathology. It is because such people resort to circular reasoning, tend to skip incessantly from topic to topic, have convoluted thinking, etc. Simultaneously, this novel raises issues about mental health and the sometimes indistinct line between sanity and insanity.

Finally, as I implied above, this novel details a psychopathology from a patient's perspective (which makes this book unique). Here is just one of this patient's ruminations:

"People who are crazy aren't out of touch, they're not the ones who have broken from reality. No! They're in touch because seeing the truth puts them in an altered sense of consciousness which no one else can comprehend because they haven't gone through the suffering which brings insight which brings suffering to crazy people who are, therefore, insightful seeing the truth, feeling the truth ever so keenly while the rest steer clear remaining ignorant and happy, but crazy and out of touch because it's not all beneficial being crazy and seeing the truth when you take into account the suffering which cannot be discounted since there's also a selfishness involved which results in gaining understanding on the part of crazy people who are the most selfish of all since they can't share a moment of experience with anyone..."

In conclusion, I found this to be an unforgettable and unique novel where the reader actually enters the mind of a psychiatric patient!! I've never read something so extraordinary!!!

(first published 2008; 3 parts or 15 chapters; main narrative 250 pages)

<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>

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