Friday, August 17, 2012

The Devil in Silver-Victor LaValle

The Devil in Silver

Victor LaValle

Spiegel & Grau, Aug 21 2012, $27.00

ISBN: 9781400069866

Working stiff Pepper is a big man who gets into a fight with Donald’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. However his three opponents turn out to be undercover cops so he is handcuffed. The officers don’t want to be bothered with documentation of this embarrassing case so they dump Pepper in New Hyde Hospital in Queens for a three day stay. To keep him sedated Pepper is given a horde of drugs and strapped to his bed.

One month later, Pepper awakens to find he is one of the inmates of this crazy house. He easily adapts to his new environs as he adjusts to his eccentric neighbors, enjoys the Hugo letters and starts a tryst with Xiu just before she is scheduled for deportation back to China. Wanting to be her hero, Pepper vows to keep her in the states while Dr. Anand diagnoses him as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Then there is the restrained individual behind the silver door who the inmates claim is Satan visiting them when the asylum is dark.

With the obvious nod to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as recognized by Victor LaValle, The Devil in Silver is an entertaining character driven tale that makes the case that the differences between the insane patients and the normal staff is insignificant. That premise abates the Satan subplot suspense but also enables the audience to compare doctors, nurses, administrators and support to the inmates with the conclusion questioning who the insane are.

Harriet Klausner

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