This photo speaks volumes to what is wrong with our Mental Health System. We treat too many things as illnesses rather than experiences of life.
“We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.
They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.
Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.”
~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.
My cousin’s husband shot and killed himself years ago. My cousin had been cooped up in a room, resting in bed and being served soup and tea, for days. I came and sat with her a few days later and she was sad and bored and wanted a distraction. We went outside in the sunlight of the porch and started playing backgammon and my Aunt, bless her heart, went into hysterics because it wasn’t proper mourning. Really?
Could you imagine being forced to talk about it, over and over again, with no relief?
Of course you could. It’s what we expect.
This novel by Christopher Moore attempts to combine fantastical characters and outrageous situations with some very realistic observations of families coping with a dying loved one. I am not entirely certain that the author was completely successful in accomplishing this. There was some deeply sincere discussion of hospice and the tragedy of loss, but the book really jumped over the edge of being ridiculous.
When I first started to read it I felt as if I were being drawn into a standard Twilight Zone-like version of the “Death Merchant” and the main character, Charlie, a beta male, was just another grim reaper. As I read further, I was delightfully surprised as Christopher Moore’s characters came to life…even the Morrigan, evil creatures that live in the sewers of San Francisco, and the squirrel people, bazaar as they were.
I read this about a month ago and was waiting to see how my book club members felt about the book before I posted. I think I can safely say that you will love it or you will hate it. I personally loved it. Some of my book club members got into some really heavy philosophical discussion on theology and the metaphysical that I really did not feel that the book warranted. That a soul could occupy an inanimate object really seemed to bother some. I feel that the author, with his nutty characters like Lily, the goth girl, Minty Fresh, the pimp, the Emperor, and others, did not intend the book to be anything more than humorous entertainment with a touch of horror and emotion. In that regard he was more than successful.
My only disappointment was in the ending. I like to be surprised and I wasn’t. I sort of figured out what was likely to happen early in the book when the hellhounds were introduced. There was another aspect to the ending that I was sort of disappointed in, but I’ll let you figure that out.
I would give this book a five star rating, because I was one of the 50% who really liked it. I would certainly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys an easy read of contemporary fantasy.