BLAKE’S THERAPY by Ariel Dorfman


Email this review


Complex and challenging thriller from the Chilean-born playwright and novelist (Konfidenz, 1995, etc).

Graham Blake’s unusual therapy treatment serves as both allegory and as demonstration of the permeability of plotting in this ever-shifting story. Blake owns the conglomerate Clean Earth Company, an ecofriendly producer of everything from herbal teas to healing holidays. He should be pleased at his good-conscience success, but is instead plagued by insomnia and doubt. Off to Dr. Tolgate's institute he goes, to cure what is deemed his confusion about identity. For one month, Blake is locked in a Philadelphia apartment with a sophisticated surveillance system whose monitors show him the intimate life of the family next door, employees at his local factory. He can determine their fate, Blake is told: Would he be interested in a crippling accident for the older brother, perhaps a rape of the mother, or a fortune found for them all? No problem. The institute's henchmen will arrange everything. The therapy allows Blake to play God, erasing all doubts as to who he is when given ultimate power. The irony, of course, is that he already has this power as employer to thousands around the globe. Blake begins his therapy and along the way becomes besotted with the family’s grown daughter Roxanna, a holistic healer, who prays right in front of the camera, as if she were praying to him. When plans go astray and he has to save Roxanna from suicide, Dr. Tolgate reveals that the whole last month has been a drama with hired actors. Cured, Blake returns to life with new vigor . . . except that he is now compelled to spy on and videotape his friends, lover, and workers. When he discovers the actual Philadelphia workers who were prototypes for his therapy “family,” he infiltrates their lives with cameras and again tries to play God, this time for real. Or is it?

Dorfman's clever, thought-provoking premise serves as the medium for a probing examination of power—as well as a daring attempt to distill the nature of good and evil.

Pub Date: May 8th, 2001
ISBN: 1-58322-070-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Seven Stories
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2001


NonfictionFEEDING ON DREAMS by Ariel Dorfman
by Ariel Dorfman
FictionTHE NANNY AND THE ICEBERG by Ariel Dorfman
by Ariel Dorfman