Dream Rider

Jon D'Arc, Author Firefall Editions $21 (160p) ISBN 978-0-915090-06-8
One man's nightmarish descent into partial blindness is the focus of this jolting pseudonymous novel, which juggles elements of a love story, fable and mystery. When California painter Aaron Rhyder finds the vision in his left eye blurred, he consults San Francisco ophthalmologist Alisa Grey and foolishly has a romantic liaison with her while undergoing six agonizing months of injections, laser treatments, cryotherapy and other procedures. Beset by pulsating patterns in his mysteriously failing eye, Aaron records these near-hallucinatory images on canvas, transmuting his anguish into art. His affair with married, mixed-up Dr. Grey (an invented name she chose herself, suggesting the infinite graduations of vision) is complicated by their parents' love histories: Aaron's late father, famed photographer Torr Rhyder, had once taken Alisa's mother as his mistress and model; Alisa's father, morose, burnt-out eye doctor Oren Endlicht (another name fraught with symbolism), claims to have bedded Aaron's mother. Questions of paternity arise, and the plot culminates in a series of shocks and twists that will take the reader's mind off the grisly, totally convincing medical detail. D'Arc, identified as a poet/photographer, turns in a swift, quirky tale that functions as a meditation on perception, a cautionary parable on the hazards of doctor-patient romances and an account of an artist's search for self. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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