The Secret Book of Designs by Catamount Mayhugh

The Secret Book of Designs

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A novel about addicts recovering from a peculiar drug from debut author Mayhugh.

Blaise Joule, B-J to most, is a college dropout–turned–stained glass artist with an appreciation for myths and history, a penchant for the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky, and a problem using correct verb tenses. Finding himself in the Red Lion House due to an addiction to the drug “Vu,” B-J is surrounded by fellow patients with equally diverse interests: Tom, a photographer steeped in Buddhism who greets people with a gentle “Namaste,” and the enthusiastic William Kelmscott, a publisher with an extensive knowledge of anthropology and quotations, both biblical and otherwise. The reader follows along as these and other patients argue, discuss philosophy, write poetry and learn to trust and, in some cases, love one another. B-J falls for the slender Cecilia, but the joining of two recovering addicts is a fragile affair. Stuffed with dialogue and references ranging from Nathanial Hawthorne to Monty Python to Calvin Coolidge and Tarkovsky, the book isn’t meant for the impatient. Discussions tend to be lengthy, and details of life in the Red Lion House (“I’m not sure Greg and Louis’ spaghetti dinner captured the essence of a special event”) can seem extraneous. Favoring a meditative quality, the book is geared more as a Dinner with Andre meets The Magic Mountain. A trust-fall exercise may not impress the reader as much as it does B-J; however, the resulting musings allow for any number of tangential thoughts and altered relationships. The prose can be a little overwrought (“Her voice took on the slightly malicious timbre of her most coquettish tones”), but the story whips through so many different concepts, the interested reader is bound to learn something in the process.

Explores many wide-ranging ideas at its own unapologetic pace.

Pub Date: July 25th, 2014
Page count: 408pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
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