Publication Date: 24th Oct 2015
I received an advance copy of The Incurables by Jon Bassoff from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by DarkFuse.
This is my second outing into the world of Jon Bassoff in recent months. I read The Disassembled Man a couple of months back. I did enjoy it but found it a bit weird at times.
You can read my review of it here. I was hoping for more of the same with this one but a little less of the weirdness.
Although dark and a bit out there, I think I got my wish.
In 1953, disgraced Dr Walter Freeman is travelling the country trying to make money, after being sacked from his prestigious position at a mental hospital for his controversial new procedure, known as the transorbitol lobotomy. He believes this is the way forward in curing all mental ailments.
After landing in the Oklahoma town of Burnwood, Dr freeman, and his docile assistant Edgar, set up a stall to try and entice people into having the procedure to save them.
He has some stiff competition though in the shape of Mr Stanton, a preacher, who believes his son Durango is the messiah. Also in the mix is Scent, a seventeen-year-old whore, who is holding out and waiting on her mother revealing where a hoard of stolen cash may be hidden.
Add all of these factors together and you certainly have a town full of Incurables!
Trying to describe the characters in this one will make you think I am insane. That isn’t the case with me but the characters in this book quite clearly are very insane. Let’s start with Dr Walter Freeman. Basically he is a mad scientist who believes lobotomies are the way forward in curing all mental health issues and some issues that would not be connected to mental health. He is as nuts as they come. His sidekick Edgar is as docile as they come, purely and simply because he has had the procedure. Mr Stanton is a preacher who preaches from a spot in town with his son Durango beside him, sitting on a throne, with a crown of thorns on his head because he firmly believes he is the messiah. Scent is a young girl selling her body to make ends meet while waiting on her mad mother revealing where a hidden stash of cash is so she can steal it, and make off with Durango.
Do they all sound nuts? Well they should because they bloody are! Trust me, when you are reading this book you will start to question your own sanity at times.
The plot? No idea. There isn’t a set-in-stone plot in this one. There are a few sub plots such as Dr Freeman wanting to lobotomise the entire planet, Mr Stanton trying to get Durango to perform miracles even though he quite clearly isn’t the messiah and Scent screwing her way through the town’s population to keep her busy until her mother reveals where the cash is hidden. When you add all of these elements together, and the main characters ultimately cross paths, you end up with a tale of madness and fanaticism that you think can never end and only end up with everyone rocking and drooling in a corner. Surprisingly though, as a story, it works exceptionally well.
This is written in a way that I am slowly coming to realise, Jon Bassoff writes extremely well. I wouldn’t expect normality in his writing. I wouldn’t expect straight forward plots that are easy to determine from the outset. What I would expect though is a mesmerising story that will keep you glued to every single page and have you turning them as fast as you can to find out exactly what is going to happen next.
I finished this story a while ago and to be honest, I am still struggling to figure out exactly what I just read and what the point was. You know what though? I don’t care because I absolutely loved it. This story is an examination of the human mind. It’s highs and its lows and its differences in every single person. We each have our own idiosyncrasies and our own ideas about things and what life should be and how we should live our lives and expect others to do the same. What does this story teach us? We are all mad. What you believe is what you believe but you should never ever try to force your beliefs onto anyone else because you will just make them all subscribe to your own brand of madness.
Too deep? Maybe you should read this then and see where it takes you.
To summarise: This is a story that is full of mystery and horror and madness and hate and blood and lust and hunger. It is a story that a review such as this cannot do justice. You have to read it for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
I can only recommend it to you as highly as I can.
★★★★★ excellent in the Bassoff way.
★★★★★ as above.
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The year is 1953. Disgraced in the psychiatric hospital where he’d practiced for nearly thirty years, Dr. Walter Freeman has taken to traversing the country and proselyting about a very new kind of salvation: the transorbitol lobotomy.
With an ice pick and a hammer, Freeman promises to cure depression and catatonia, delusions and psychosis, with a procedure as simple and safe as curing a toothache.
When he enters the backwater Oklahoma town of Burnwood, however, his own sanity will be tested. Around him swirls a degenerate and delusional cast of characters—a preacher who believes his son to be the Messiah, a demented and violent young prostitute, and a trio of machete-wielding brothers—all weaved into a grotesque narrative that reveals how blind faith in anything can lead to destruction.
Jon Bassoff was born in 1974 in New York City and currently lives in a ghost town somewhere in Colorado. His mountain gothic novel, CORROSION, was called "startlingly original and unsettling" by Tom Piccirilli, a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and won the DarkFuse Reader's Choice Award for best novel. His surrealistic follow-up, FACTORY TOWN, was called "A hallucinatory descent into an urban hell" by Bram Stoker award-winning author Ramsey Campbell. Both novels have been adapted into films with CORROSION slated to begin filming in 2015.
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