K-PAX by Gene Brewer


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 An Oliver Sacks-ish New York shrink hangs out with an upbeat Man Who Fell to Earth in this banal debut. At the outset, an oddball patient calling himself ``prot'' and claiming to be a 357-year-old visitor from the planet K-PAX is delivered to the care of a psychiatrist named ``Gene Brewer.'' Prot, we learn, is a delusional amnesiac with a dual personality who has devised an elaborate fiction to compensate for a trauma suffered by the real person hidden beneath his cosmic obfuscations. K-PAX, as prot informs Gene during their sessions, is a mostly charmed world devoid of carnivores, aggression, and stress, where everyone subsists on fruit and grains, avoids sex (because it's painful), and talks to the animals. By exceeding the speed of light, K-PAXians can wander to other planets, which prot has done in order to help his human counterpart, Robert Porter, a catatonic former slaughterhouse worker laden with the weight of repressed memories. Unfortunately for Gene, prot is scheduled to ``depart'' only a few months after their regimen of therapy has begun, so the doctor must race against time to recover what he can of Robert's submerged biography from his protector and mouthpiece--that is, prot--before he disappears. With the help of hypnotism and a plucky newspaperwoman, Gene just might cure the spaceman and bring Robert back from catatonia. Meanwhile, prot offers commonsense remedies to his fellow zanies (an entertaining bunch) and to Gene's mildly dysfunctional family, employing a quasi-Christian, know-thyself riff that fans of Eliseo Subiela's similarly plotted film, Man Facing Southeast, will find most familiar. A genial psych lecture supplemented by a hefty dose of utopian blather. (Film rights to Universal)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-11840-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995


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