Author: Jon Bassoff
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
In The Incurables by Jon Bassoff, excellent writing meets with an intriguing set of characters. Dr. Walter Freeman travels the country in 1953 after being fired from a psychiatric hospital. He promises to end depression, catatonia, psychosis, and so on, with nothing but an ice pick and a hammer – lobotomy. But when he enters Burnwood, his own sanity is about to be tested. A delusional, degenerate cast passes by, each of them unique, crazy, and testing his sanity.
The characterization was amazing. Bassoff succeeds in making all his characters, no matter how ridiculous and over the top they sound, feel like real, existing people. The crazier they are, the more he succeeds in bringing them to life. The story is bleak, dark, depressing, but it challenges the reader to question what it means to be sane or insane, and how thin the line between both really is.