Praise for Two-Headed Dog
Two-Headed Dog is compelling. The further I got in, the faster I found myself reading. And believe me, that doesn't happen to me so often any more. I have trouble finishing most novels these days, published or not, because they all feel so... predictable. This book, to say the least, is not. This book is a ticking clock. A search. A mystery.
The novel begins in Part I as a fairly sedate, carefully observed story of a lonely doctor in a somewhat eccentric mental facility. The book just takes off in Part II, when Hank finds the renegade half-way house in the woods. There the book begins to transform, to become mystical and revelatory. It was at this point that I knew I was hooked, turning the pages as quickly as I could. After that, the story doesn't let up. It explodes. Once Hank finds Tiffany at her father's mansion, in Part III, the novel again metamorphoses, from the intriguing and mystical to flat-out bizarre and surreal. Wow. These scenes are riveting. Each section works on its own terms. I'm fascinated and refreshed by this book.
Craig Holden, author of The River Sorrow, Four Corners of Night, The Jazz Bird, and other novels, winner of the Great Lakes Book Award in Fiction
Two-Headed Dog is an interesting novel; with so many different twists and turns. I see it as a very original take on the nature of the beast--the Beast being humankind--with all of its capacities for love, lust and bloodlust, sanity and madness; a novel that seems based in reality as it begins and becomes increasingly surrealistic but always raising all these questions of "What's at the core of us humans?," and it's done with humor and folly and great poetic touches. It deserves to be a huge hit.
Martin Shepard, Publisher, Permanent Press
"Two-Headed Dog" is a most interesting and surreal read. Never boring or slow, there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader's attention and interest as it follows the exploits of its hero, Hank Ribinthal, an erstwhile, if initially somewhat hapless, clinical psychologist at the Florida State Hospital (lovingly referred to by the staff as FLOPSIE). One of Hank's patients has wondered off campus, and Hank begins a journey deep into another world as he pursues the young woman to whom he has grown perhaps a little too attached, even to the point of his own obsession. With touches of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and a little Vonnegut thrown in, Grabois takes the reader further and deeper into alternative realities of the schizophrenic and the pathologic, but always with a wry sense of humor and a sympathy for the suffering that comes both of pathologies borne within, as well as those that accrue from the harsher experiences that make up the modern, commercialized life in late 20th century America. Not quite a love story, Grabois rather explores the idea of what it would mean to fall in love with a schizophrenic, and reveals the conflicted motivations of those who are called to care for them. Caught between a world of the necessarily clinical procedures of a state mental institution, along with the distanced objectivity that it requires, and the empathy that must be the correlate of a healing profession, Hank, like the two-headed dog of mythology, learns to stand upright in the guard of those placed in his charge.
The author is a cousin of mine whom I have never met, and never knew about until about a month ago. He asked me to read the book (after we found each other), and I was happy to do so, but I had no idea what to expect. I ended up loving the book, and thinking a lot about it both as I read and after I finished. The story takes place in and around an institution that houses schizophrenics. Most people think of schizophrenia as having to do with multiple personalities, which I believe is not true. It seems to be more about a dissociation from reality, and there is that in spades in this book. What is fascinating about the book is that it is very difficult to trust the narrator, who seems to have at least a few screws loose (I believe that is the technical term) himself. The reader (at least me when I was the reader) starts being unsure of what is real and what isn't - in other words, you experience a little schizophrenia yourself when you read the book.
What's amazing is that, in spite of that, there's also an engaging story unfolding as you go. Even though schizophrenia is an extremely disturbing disease, there's nothing scary or particularly yucky in the book. No nightmares here for the reader.
In short, Mitch Grabois has told a great story in a really interesting and innovative way.
Very interesting plot and characters. It's a real page turner. I honestly couldn't put it down. Pretty cool and surreal but surprisingly touching love story built in also.
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Club Hit
Had the most animated discussion ever. The Ladidas don't get too excited about novels but Two-Headed Dog had us going. It's a good choice for book club review.