Life in the Rainbow

Richard Horan, Author
Richard Horan, Author Steerforth Press $17 (0p) ISBN 978-1-883642-02-0
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Less a novel than a series of brief character sketches, Horan's debut weakly limns a group of mentally challenged people who live in an ""asane asylum"" where ""ev'ryt'ing is upaside down."" Inspired by Thoreau, narrator Richard, a recent college grad, is walking from Boston to Alaska when he stops at a barbershop in Chicago. At the suggestion of the friendly, stereotypically sagacious barber, he commits himself to a nine-month stint as a nurse's aide at The Rainbow Home. The inhabitants there include the expected roster: a paranoid schizophrenic, a multiple personality, a victim of Down's syndrome, an autistic, a monomaniac, an obsessive and so on. Richard's profiles of them provide little more than would be garnered from a social worker's files; one chapter simply notes basic facts from a patient's records. After nine months, Richard leaves to work as a private aide to one of the patients. What drama there is revolves around a new owner's attempt to remove the current residents to turn the place into a profitable private institution, but this plot ploy never reaches a proper crescendo of conflict or suspense. (Mar.)
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