Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Sum of His Syndromes

Summary from Author's Website. “Maybe between the two of us we can trick me into being honest with you.” A collage of notes written in a sixth-floor men’s room, The Sum of His Syndromes is the story of a slightly disturbed young man who has found himself at a personal and professional crossroads. There is a job he doesn’t want, a girl he does, and a friend who is writing a book. If it weren’t for the wise counsel of his therapist, the anomalous Dr. C, who knows what might have happened.

2008 Oregon Book Award Finalist

Review. Alvy Singer, the neurotic Woody Allen character in Annie Hall, joked "I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member." Apparently, neither does David, the protagonist and narrator in The Sum of His Syndromes by K.B. Dixon. The story unfolds through the novel’s unusual format -- notes scribbled from the sixth floor men’s room. David is a depressed young man in a dead-end job and a loving relationship that he is convinced is doomed to end. In an attempt to treat his depression and assorted neuroses he seeks treatment from the pill pushing psychiatrist Dr. C.

The notes range from hysterical, to insightful, to the common, but are never banal. Here are few gems:

“Swanson’s philosophy is ‘things will work out;’ mine is they won’t.”

“One thing I can tell you for sure: I’m nobody’s first choice.”

“I have no doubt my view is distorted – maybe even as distorted as yours. So what are we going to do about it?”

“Even if you’re right Dr. C, you shouldn’t be. I’m going to try not to listen.”

“I wish I were here because I had a cough or runny nose, but I’m not. I’m here because I am alone and insignificant and the chances are that one of these days I’m going to die. I know you can’t do anything about that, but it’s fun for awhile to pretend.”

“I know to some degree I’m supposed to fall apart in here so that when we put me back together I’m arranged in a better way. But how much am I supposed to fall apart – too much and all we’ve got is trouble on our hands.”

And most poignantly: “If I could live a different sort of life, I would be somebody else.”

Don’t be fooled by the novel’s slender size and abbreviated note format. The Sum of His Syndromes is literary poetry on the page.

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