cover image Dr. Haggard's Disease

Dr. Haggard's Disease

Patrick McGrath / Author Poseidon Press $19.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-

Edward Haggard is a general practitioner who has moved from London during the Blitz to the south of England to recover from an ill-fated love affair with a colleague's wife. In true gothic fashion--a style in which McGrath has no contemporary peer--Haggard assumes occupancy of a dark manse set upon a cliff overlooking the sea, where he indulges in morphine and mournful reveries. Into his surgery one day walks a young airman, James Vaughan, the son of Haggard's former lover. Haggard obsesses over James--and confesses to the son every detail of his passion for his mother. Withheld until the very end of the tale is the nature of a transformation that overtakes the young man--an increasing femininity and infantilism. As in McGrath's masterful Spider , fantasy and reality are blurred. Is Dr. Haggard deranged? Is the force of his passion for the airman's mother working some mystical transubstantiation? Or is the airman's body reacting to the stress of flying missions into the teeth of the Luftwaffe? Although the novel sags in the middle while the reader waits for vaguely prefigured revelations, McGrath serves up a closing image that is ghastly--and unforgettable. Author tour. (May)