The Storm at the Door

Stefan Merrill Block. Random, $25 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6945-3
Block (The Story of Forgetting) fictionalizes the story of his grandparents in this incredibly moving story of life, love, and mental illness. Frederick is an eccentric, depressed alcoholic who chooses a stint at the Mayflower Home for the Mentally Ill (a fictionalized McLean Psychiatric Hospital) over being jailed for flashing a car. What Frederick cannot expect is that he will remain a prisoner there, at the mercy of his fed-up wife, Katharine, and a series of sadistic doctors who are charged with "curing" Frederick and his compatriots at the institution. After he witnesses a series of increasingly gory suicides, Frederick's determination to hold on to normalcy wanes—particularly after a round of electroshock therapy administered by a physician who only wants Frederick to forget a transgression he witnessed between the doctor and a nurse. Katharine, meanwhile, is forced to face what she has done both to her husband and to her four daughters—both in the moment and decades later when Block brings his fictional counterpart into the story. He masterfully pulls the reader through this heartbreaking story, making readers care deeply about what happens to his characters, as flawed as they are at times. It's this generation's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, all the more horrifying because of its real-world inspiration. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Paperback - 300 pages - 978-0-571-26959-4
Paperback - 342 pages - 978-0-571-26961-7
Open Ebook - 233 pages - 978-0-679-60510-2
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-8129-8179-7
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