In this debut novel, Harry Taylor recounts his mistaken marriage to a schizophrenic, detailing her “Voice” and mercenary, mentally unstable family.
Harry, who was in between college and law school in 1969, met younger Terri through a cousin and married her in his middle age. She admitted to having mental issues, but Harry was assured by her doctor that these were controlled by medication; thus, as expressed in the novel’s first chapter heading, “The Prognosis Is Good.” Harry soon found out this was a misdiagnosis, since Terri became hostile about having sex, intensely concerned about his money, and, worst of all, obsessive in her desire to kill her parents, particularly her mother, from whom she likely inherited her mental illness. Harry began to realize that Terri was in full sway to what she described as her “Voice.” His first-person account provides a picture of what these racing thoughts were like and how he initially wanted to help Terri but soon felt helpless and then resolved upon divorce. He ended up battling Terri’s parents in court proceedings since they had welcomed him taking over Terri’s medical costs and pushed for a big settlement. He finally extricated himself but is now lonely and shell-shocked by the experience. Terri and her family met even more tragic ends. Author Malady seems very likely to be a pseudonym for someone who has confronted similar circumstances. Regardless, the author captures the horror and pain of such a predicament. The “Voice” chapters are particularly striking, engendering surprising sympathy for the troublesome Terri. The narrative is undercut a bit by its rambling style, which has some digressive and seemingly nonchronological sequences, as well as its dwelling on money grievances; both issues dilute the work’s larger, more important discussion about handling mental illness. Still, this account offers plenty of fascinating documentarylike moments, not least of which is the author’s intriguing assertion that “the source of religious inspiration might be mental illness.”
yet gripping exploration of mental illness.