God Head

Scott Zwiren, Author Dalkey Archive Press $10.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-56478-130-7
The manic-depressive narrator of this edgy novel offers an inside look at mental illness. The one problem is that the reader has to spend so much time inside the mind of a manic depressive to get it. ""I am waiting to know what I am because I don't know,"" begins the narrator, but as the novel progresses (and time recedes), the narrator recalls the time when he concluded he was God, sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son. The details of the narrator's life and what serves as the plot are deeply buried, thereby re-emphasizing the narrator's disconnectedness. Each development turns into a comment on his mental state. After torturing himself over when to tell the woman he is dating that he is God, he finally works up the courage only to blurt out, instead, that he is manic-depressive. At one point, while hospitalized, the narrator lies in bed attempting to strangle himself in his own sheets. At another he muses: ""I can't distinguish between a condom and a sock."" He believes he can stare down a light bulb and makes plans to create an antigravity suit, jumping from one idea to the next with little warning. The value of Zwiren's novel is in its ability to convey the overwhelming constancy of mental illness through episode after horrifying episode. Where it fails is in finding some way to pull those episodes together into something beyond a character study. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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