The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

James Morrow. Tachyon, $14.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-61696-265-4
Entrancing prose enhances the unusual plot of Morrow’s successful melding of history and fantasy. Francis Wyndham, a self-described “bookish farm boy from central Pennsylvania,” had his life changed, in 1913, by an inspirational visit to a modern art exhibition. Wyndham heads to Paris, where he adopts the identity of a descendant of “a line of North American gypsies famous for their spare but powerful folk art.” His initial efforts to get access to the giants of the age ends poorly, but he gets a new lease on life in 1914 when he’s offered the chance to serve as an art therapist at an asylum run by Dr. Alessandro Caligari. Despite Caligari’s poor opinion of Wyndham’s work, Wyndham lands the job, only to learn that his employer, who views WWI as a “grand-scale Nietzschean work of art,” has produced a painting, Ecstatic Wisdom, with unsettling powers that the American feels compelled to counter. Readers with a taste for the bizarre and unexpected will be satisfied. Agent: Emma Patterson, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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