Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: An Age of Madness

Read 7/31/12 - 8/1/13
5 Stars - Highly Recommended / The Next Best Book
Pgs: 293
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Release Date: Sept 1, 2012

2012 feels like the year of the grieving spouse/parent in literary fiction.

Two of my favorite reads from earlier this year remain Amelia Gray's Threats and Jac Jemc's My Only Wife. Additionally, I have just started reading Jonathan Evison's The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, which so far has all the makings of a favorite as well. All three of these books contain male protagonists who deal with grief and loss (a wife in Amelia and Jac's case, children in Jonathan's) in their own, unique, and potentially crazy ways.

In David Maine's sixth novel, An Age of Madness, (upcoming from Red Hen Press) I found myself revisiting the grief and loss theme again, only this time it's from a female point of view. A female psychiatrist, to be exact.

Told in first person present, Regina Moss introduces herself as someone Freud would call a lousy mother. Overbearing and emotionally distant. Perhaps it's a good thing her job is diagnosing mental disorders and not, say, in marriage or guidance counseling. Her rough bedside manner and thick professional skin, however, might not be solely a product of her work environment. Sure, working with crazies must take its toll on you after awhile. But we get the feeling really early on that Regina's got some personal issues she hasn't been able to work herself through just yet. She's been protecting herself, and us, from some nasty skeletons in her closet. And now, it would appear the bones behind the door are begging to be let out and the walls she's built up around them are starting to crumble right before our eyes.

It certainly doesn't help that her college-aged daughter is having a hard time while away at school, informing Regina that she's started seeing a shrink. Withdrawn and stubborn, just like her mother, she's pushing Regina away, which only reignites the ugliness and fear that Regina's been trying to keep bottled up.

Let me be clear. Regina Moss is a liar. She lies to us, she lies to her daughter, she lies to those with whom she works, but much more devastatingly, she lies to herself. Through the brilliance of David Maine and his impeccable timing, we act as witnesses as Regina slowly and painfully comes to terms with the awful truth of what happened to her family all those years ago.

Like a child who refuses to confess to a horrible, shameful sin, Regina shares the truth in fits and starts. Little by little, things are brought out into the light. Testing the waters, she watches reactions and waits before dusting more dirt off the truth. And just when you think she's laid it all out, that she's finally come clean and started to deal with things, there's more. Much more.

I've always been a big fan of David's writing. I love his biblical fiction, I got a kick out of his rompy B-movie novel, and I enjoyed his jump into sci-fi. I like how he reinvents himself with every new book that comes out,  as though he is breaking molds and laying new ground.

Wherever David Maine's writing takes him, this little lit-groupie is sure to follow!


Speaking of following David, did you know that TNBBC is hosting our very first author reading event?!

It's called A TNBBC Evening Out with David Maine and it's taking place in Brooklyn at the Book Thug Nation used book store on September 14th at 7pm. David will be reading from An Age of Madness and we'll have books for sale for $10 bucks! We'd love to see you there! 

If you can't make that one, no sweat! We've got an encore reading over at KGB in New York City on September 16th at 7pm. Books will be for sale there too! Won't you come hang with us and celebrate our love of literature??

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