NO ONE CARES ABOUT CRAZY PEOPLE: THE CHAOS AND HEARTBREAK OF MENTAL HEALTH IN AMERICA By Ron Powers


The title of this book comes from Scott Walker’s aide, Kelly M. Rindfleisch, who dismissed mental health legislation with “No one cares about crazy people.” Ron Powers cares about crazy people because both of his sons suffered from schizophrenia. Powers’s older son, Dean, committed suicide when he was 21-years-old. The younger son still struggles with his mental health problems. Ron Powers provides an insightful and informative history of how mental health has been dealt with over the past 200 years. We’re a long way from chaining patients up in Bedlam, but when President Reagan closed several mental health facilities, he created a new class of mental health sufferers: the Homeless. Powers shows how the “promise” of new drugs to “cure” mental conditions like schizophrenia failed to deliver the benefits doctors and patients hoped for. Today, we’re mired in a stasis where mental health is relegated to the shadows despite the increasing numbers of people who suffer from depression and bi-polar disorders. No One Cares About Crazy People argues for a new approach to dealing with mental illnesses and shows what can be done when people focus on this important issue. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Preface xiii
1. Membrane 1
2. What Is Schizophrenia? 21
3. Regulars 39
4. Bedlam, Before and Beyond 56
5. Eugenics: Weeding Out the Mad 79
6. “A More Normal World” 103
7. “When They Were Young” 110
8. Madness and Genius 115
9. “If Only, If Only, If Only…” 128
10. Chaos and Heartbreak 142
11. The Great Unraveler 156
12. Surcease 175
13. Debacle 187
14. “Hey Fam—” 205
15. Antipsychotics 221
16. “Something Unexplainable” 245
17. “We Have Done Pitifully Little About Mental Illness” 264
18. “Primoshadino” 284
19. Red Sox 17, Yankees 1 297
20. Insanity and Icarus 299
21. Someone Cares About Crazy People 316
Epilogue 330
Acknowledgements 333
Notes 335
Index 349
About the Author 361

THE VINYL DETECTIVE: WRITTEN IN DEAD WAX By Andrew Cartmel


If you’re a record fan, you’re going to love Andrew Cartmel’s clever The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax. The Vinyl Detective lives in a London flat with his two cats and spends his time searching thrift shops for old record albums. He’s approached by a beautiful woman named Nevada who works for a wealthy Japanese businessman. For a considerable amount of money, the Vinyl Detective agrees to find a rare Jazz album called Easy Come, Easy Go. The search starts out as fun, but sinister forces are at work. Someone else wants the rare LP, too, and is willing to kill for it. Along the way, author Andrew Carmel displays his knowledge of popular music. Cartmel worked on Midsomer Murders and Torchwood as well as serving as a script editor on Doctor Who. I have the second Vinyl Detective mystery on top of the Read Real Soon stack so you’ll be reading that review soon. The Vinyl Detective: WRitten in Dead Wax gets the series off to a solid start. GRADE: B+

DEAD AGAIN [DVD]


From 1991 comes this surprising movie with Kenneth Branagh (who directed the movie, too!), Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi, Robin Williams, Andy Garcia, and Wayne Knight (“Newman” from SEINFELD). Kenneth Branagh plays an LA private eye who investigates a woman with amnesia (Emma Thompson). At first, Emma Thompson’s character can’t speak, but with the help of a hypnotist played by Derek Jacobi, she starts to regain fragments of her memory. The plot revolves around “past lives” where Branagh was a composer and Emma Thompson was his wife who is murdered. The movie jumps back and forth in Time. Special features include the trailer, commentary with producer Lindsay Doran and screenwriter Scott Frank, and commentary by Kenneth Branagh. I enjoyed this. GRADE: B+

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #420: THE BEST OF GORDON R. DICKSON Edited by Hank Davis


Decades ago, publishers would bring out “The Best of” collections of Science Fiction and Fantasy writers on a regular basis. That tradition still lives at BAEN BOOKS. BAEN BOOKS is publishing The Best of Ben Bova in three volumes. Now, with the help of canny Hank Davis, we have Volume One of The Best of Gordon R. Dickson. Dickson was one of my favorite writers when I started reading Science Fiction back in the 1960s. This collection presents Dickson’s work from the 1950s and 1960s. Volume 2, scheduled for 2018, will collect stories from the 1970s and 1980s. If you’re a fan of traditional SF storytelling, you’ll enjoy these stories. GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Love Song” (previously unpublished)
“Miss Prinks” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June, 1954)
“Our First Death” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August, 1955)
“St. Dragon and the George” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September, 1957)
“Friend for Life” (Venture Science Fiction, March, 1957)
“Danger—Human” (Astounding Science Fiction, December, 1957)
“Fleegl of Fleegl” (Venture Science Fiction, May, 1958)
“The Question” (Astounding Science Fiction, May, 1958)
“The Girl Who Played Wolf” (Fantastic, August, 1958)
“The Dreamsman” (Star Science Fiction #6, 1959)
“One on Trial” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May, 1960)
“An Honorable Death” (Galaxy Magazine, February, 1961)
“Whatever Gods There Be” (Amazing Stories, July, 1961)
“Idiot Solvant” (Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact, January, 1962)
“Dolphin’s Way” (Analog Science Fact-Science Fiction, June, 1964)
OTHER ANTHOLOGIES EDITED BY HANK DAVIS:
The Best of the Bolos: Their Finest Hour (2010)
A Cosmic Christmas (2012)
A Cosmic Christmas 2 (2013)
In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (2013)
The Baen Big Book of Monsters (2014)
As Time Goes By (2015)
Future Wars … and Other Punchlines (2015)
Worst Contact (2016)
Things from Outer Space (2016)
If This Goes Wrong… (2016)

THE IDIOT By Elif Batuman


I enjoyed reading Elif Batuman’s quirky and humorous memoir of her Stanford University graduate student days in The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. You can read my review here. So I thought I might like Elif Batuman’s new novel, The Idiot. It’s the story of a Harvard University freshman named Selin in the mid-1990s who deals with her unusual roommates, the new phenomenon of email, and her academic courses. Of course, Selin develops a crush on a senior. They start to exchange weird emails. In fact, for a good chunk of The Idiot Selin is either waiting for an email or writing emails trying to figure out the object of her affections. This goes on for 423 pages. Yes, there are moments of humor. I especially liked the bizarre story Selin and her fellow students in her Russian class try to decipher. Elif Batuman wrote this novel 17 years ago and then “tweaked” it for this publication. Not a good result. GRADE: C

THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE By John Scalzi


Isaac Asimov wrote about a collapsing interstellar empire in his Foundation trilogy. Harri Seldon figured out “pyschohistory” that could predict the Future. And Seldon’s equations predicted that the Empire would fall and Dark Ages would begin. Seldon and a band of scientists, armed with their knowledge of the Future, try to cut the Dark Ages short.

In The Collapsing Empire, John Scalzi writes about an interstellar empire that’s linked by “The Flow” which allows a short-cut between far-flung planets and human colonies. A scientist on a planet called End figures out the Flow is going away and all the human colonies will be isolated. The Empire will collapse. If you’re a fan of this kind of 1950’s story-telling, then The Collapsing Empire will entertain you. Scalzi sets up the plotting to suggest further sequels. GRADE: B

DC SUPER VILLAINS: THE JOKER [DVD]


The Joker collects seven episodes from Batman: The Animated Series. There’s 158 minutes of entertaining adventures on this DVD. TARGET has this DVD at the best price of $8.99. The episodes on this disk are: “The Joker’s Favor,” “Vendetta,” “Fear of Victory,” The Clock King,” “Appointment in Crime Alley,” Mad as a Hatter,” and “Dreams of Darkness.” If you have the box sets of Batman: The Animated Series you can skip The Joker which is just compilation. But, if you’re a fan of Batman and the Joker, this is an inexpensive way to acquire a few hours of fun viewing. Who’s your favorite comic book villain? GRADE: B+

FOREVER AND A DEATH By Donald E. Westlake


HARD CASE CRIME found the lost Donald Lam/Bertha Cool mystery (my review of The Knife Slipped is here) and published it. Now they found a missing Donald E. Westlake novel, Forever and a Death which is based on scripts Westlake wrote for a James Bond movie that was never made. Richard Curtis is a zillionaire who has a secret plan to punish the Chinese for taking over Hong Kong and ruining his business prospects. But, Curtis’s convoluted plan takes over 400 pages to accomplish. That’s one problem. The other problem with Forever and a Death is that there really isn’t a protagonist. George Manville, an engineer, starts out in that role but then disappears for large chunks of the book. Henry James called novels like this “loose, baggy monsters” and just about fits. For a more positive review, you can check out Bill Crider’s take here. What’s your favorite Donald E. Westlake novel? GRADE: B-

DOCTOR WHO: SEASON 10 PREMIERE [BBC AMERICA]


For those of you who wanted to watch DOCTOR WHO but felt that you were going to be confused by a series that’s been going for decades, here is your chance to get up to speed. Steven Moffat, the show runner, says the premiere of Doctor Who, Season 10 has been carefully designed so that newcomers to DOCTOR WHO will be oriented to the series and will feel comfortable with the characters. Peter Capaldi returns as the Doctor and he has a new companion, “Bill” Potts (played by Pearl Mackie). Some theaters are bringing this episode to the Big Screen. Check Fathom Events online for details. This looks like a very good season of DOCTOR WHO based on the trailers I’ve seen.