A doctor resuscitates a suicide victim’s life–and mind.
Despite a glorious and adventure-filled past, aging and destitute photographer Randolph Mayer is in a coma after a failed suicide attempt. Randolph was found by medical student Kyle Randall, who decides to try an ancient Chinese acupuncture technique to resuscitate him, then continues to provide emotional therapy to the suicidal patient. Kyle uses the Ghost Points treatment, a procedure that requires that he insert needles into 13 precise points, which allegedly harbor specific body energies. During the course of the novel, the respective steps of Kyle’s treatment trigger within the comatose photographer intense recollections of seminal events in his life, which include his childhood fascination with cameras; a dangerous career as a photojournalist in China and Greece; an introduction to fashion photography in Paris; and a career in New York–with all the romantic connections and missed opportunities in-between. It’s the sort of life that would be portrayed onscreen by Errol Flynn or Humphrey Bogart. On the same metaphysical level, Randolph realizes his life was not at all fruitless. Meanwhile, Kyle has also used the time for personal reflection, and he comes to a few uplifting conclusions as well. The narrative alternates between Randolph and Kyle’s points of view, and Von Gerlach has spun an intriguing story full of travel-reel worthy settings, characters and events. While the author has a clear grasp on history and setting, his dialogue doesn’t exhibit enough fluidity to cinch the story line up neatly. However, with two worthy characters as anchors, the book remains compelling.
More ambition than style, but a thought-provoking read.