I said that a beer and a book would be in order for the day for me in spite of the monumentally wonderful snow conditions that are on view outside my mountainside perch. So, it's no surprise that I finished a novel last night.
The Girl On The Landing is the story of a man's awakening after being sedated on anti-psychotic medication for years. And by the middle of the story I was getting quite excited by some of the ideas it contained. After all I have a keen professional and personal interest in the effects that pharmaceuticals have on our ability to function. True, medication is a blessing to many, myself included. That top up of serotonin is just what I need to make me properly human and not think bizarre thoughts about how I'm to blame for all the bad things that happen in the universe and how everyone, quite rightly, hates me.
Yet I heartily acknowledge that for others this is not the case. Drugs have side effects that often override their benefits. And woefully, they are still used as a chemical cosh that in to inhibit personhood. So it seemed to be for Michael, the main character in the book who exhibited eccentric traits and beliefs in his younger days and thus needed 'treatment' . Numbed for many years, living a drab existence, he only came alive when he threw his tablets away. Yee haa!
But then the book took a turn for the worse. We hear the implausible tale of why Michael's medication had been prescribed in the first place. Instead of promoting a positive take on individualism, the story went on to draw on the most exaggerated and erroneous stereotypes about extreme violence being associated with schizophrenia. Goodbye new man. Hello best chummer of Hannibal the Cannibal. So here's a message for Mr Torday. What started as a great read could have turned out so much better if you'd veered away from misguided cliches and developed a character who by the end of the tale had really surprised me in a way that defied societal norms.