I was frankly terrified to find myself engrossed and actually dare I say enjoying a book about a 14 year old girl recovering in a convent psychiatric hospital (more nuns) from amnesia in the aftermath of a brutal gang rape. How can I just have said that? I feel terrible.
The Miniature Man led me into territory so far beyond my reading comfort zone as to be virtually unmapped.So it was with trepidation that I turned each page; disclosure of events was inevitable and frankly I was dying a death at the mere thought.
In fact r.muir (in ee cummings style that is how he/she is known) handled this subject matter with such sensitivity and looked after me so carefully as a reader that I'm a survivor.You know on page 1 that something hideous has happened but you share Marcy's amnesia and are carefully prepared as well as she is to cope with the final revelation.
It is page 276 before you gulp hard, get a grip and race through with eyes half shut, the 10 pages of full, complete and gruesome detail. By this time you are thoroughly readied to face up to it in much the same way that finally Marcy is, and you know her so well and admire her so deeply that you feel honour bound to see it through with her.
I've focused on Marcy but there's another story woven in about fellow inpatient Julian, an albino chess champion of prodigious and unbeaten talent until he develops epilepsy and becomes suicidal. An unusual, illustrated chessgame is played throughout the book.You can easily ignore this if you have no knowledge of chess but following it and seeing just how it mirrors and reflects the the plot back to you was a fascinating aspect of this book for me.
I raced through this with just a slight touch of the brakes as I approached page 276 at which point I put my foot on the pedal and then made a dash for the end. Highly recommended if you are into psychological thrillers and can temporarily suspend any cynicism you may harbour for things like ESP. Nor ultimately, I'm hoping, despite the trauma of the subject matter will this book keep me awake and fretting or give me nightmares so grateful thanks to r.muir for his/her first novel (actually written in 1987) and snowbooks for re-publishing it.
As an afterword, there is I think, just a hint of a tint of Stefan Zweig's wonderful 1941 novella The Royal Game concealed in r.muir's book and that's another one worth reading.This and more came to light when, in the midst of some holocaust reading last year, I suddenly and inexplicably thought it would be interesting to read the writers whose work Hitler had burnt in 1933. Stefan Zweig, Irmgard Keun and Sigrid Undset were interesting discoveries from this diversion.
All in good time, more of them another day.