DR. NERUDA'S CURE FOR EVIL by Rafael Yglesias

DR. NERUDA'S CURE FOR EVIL

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Gripping, deep-delving psychological novel that offers a new path in analysis but can't sustain the melodrama implied in its title. Intelligent, straightforward storytelling and brilliant characterization mark each Yglesias novel. Enriched by a powerful spiritual fantasy, 1993's Fearless asked the reader how he'd act if he returned from death stripped of every mortal fear. The author's latest never steams death's mirror as strongly but does remain taut and adult while asking, Can psychiatry provide a cure for evil? The answer hangs on the inspired agility of Dr. Rafael Guillermo Neruda, once a wonderchild like Yglesias himself (who published his first novel at 16). Neruda is a well-known, respectably published child psychiatrist who runs a New York clinic for abused children. His own childhood was marked by incest and violence, a mother who bedded him as a little boy and later immolated herself, and a supremely narcissistic, demanding father of Spanish background, against whom young Rafe testified. Now, Rafe's life begins to change when he accepts Gene Kenney, a wimpy, abused, disruptive teenager, as a patient. Rafe dislikes him but treats him for over a decade. Eventually, Gene becomes head of R&D for a successful, heartless computer manufacturer. But when Rafe strips him of his last neurotic defense, the liberated but defenseless Gene can't bear his calamities and escapes through murder/suicide. This personal ``failure'' propels Rafe into hiring out as a consultant to Gene's computer company and attempting a groundbreaking cure of its ``evil'' owner and his icy, man-eating daughter, both of whom have suffered childhood trauma similar to Rafe's own. His treatment will both succeed and fail. No sentence by Yglesias is particularly memorable; it's his analysis of power and sex that draws one on. Unlike Fearless, this is not a story one lingers over. But the strong plot keeps us fascinated and reading. (Film rights to Twentieth Century Fox; author tour)

Pub Date: July 18th, 1996
ISBN: 0-446-52005-5
Page count: 608pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996




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