Saturday, March 16, 2013

Review: "Dr. Haggard's Disease" by Patrick McGrath

While it has been a few months since I have posted any reviews (I was involved in my first Shakespeare play), a lot of what I remember about Dr. Haggard’s Disease by Patrick McGrath still sticks with me, both the good aspects as well as the bad. First and foremost, this is an excellent example of a modern gothic novel that is meant to establish a keen sense of place and an enveloping mood of dread that almost leaks off the page. Even in the books dull moments I was able to find passages and little side stories that were effective and very, very creepy at points. It is like the Poe story that he never wrote, owing lot to his ideas about obsession and mania. But that is all this book seems to offer, even if that is enough for some people. At points it is too vague in detail and plot to really have kept me interested, but luckily it is short so it does not monopolize your time very much. We meet Dr. Haggard, practicing medicine in his Gothic seaside mansion, sporting an injury that he got long ago, when the son of his long deceased love comes knocking at his door, dredging up feelings in him that act as both a personal comfort as well as a harbinger for his true state of mind. Like I said, the narrative voice of Dr. Haggard offers many keen insights into the mind of a desperate and lonely person, such as his recollection of what happened to another seaside mansion that had burned down, but a lot of the time this comes at the expense of a cohesive story, which leads to an ending that is too confusing to be clear and concise. If you prefer mood to story, this should be a book you like more than I did.
Rating: 3/5

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