Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Escaping Psychiatry


Olga Nunez Miret's trilogy of novellas about wannabe writer Mary Miller and her exploits in her primary field of psychiatry carry with them three very distinct feels.  First up is Cannon Fodder which has Mary working with a young African American man by the name of Cain White who is on trial for inciting a religious riot.  Cain claims to be hearing the voice of God and with none of the evidence pointing towards a mental disorder it's up to Mary to dig through the past to find the truth of the present.

I really enjoyed Cannon Fodder, I didn't know what to expect but I found myself unable to put it down.  The writing style, as required in a novella, dives straight into the narrative and allows much of the characterisation to be born out of circumstance.  An interesting and honest piece of fiction that's not afraid to tackle the big issues.


When Police Captain Tom McLeod has a young officer struggling to deal with the violent death of his partner/mentor he calls on old friend Mary to see if the psychiatrist can offer any help for the promising young cop but is there more to deal with than survivor guilt?

Teamwork followed on from Cannon Fodder in a natural way, not only showcasing Miret's writing style but also in the characterisation and development of Mary Miller.  It has a matter of fact way of writing that undercuts characters, plots and motives in a way that's exciting and involving.  Miller is a great protagonist who journey is as bitterly beautiful as it is poignant.


Memory not only finishes the trilogy but takes the reader in a different direction as Mary becomes the victim of a violent sexual assault that results in the loss of her memory but when the psychiatrist becomes the patient who and what can be trusted when there's no recollection of the events?

It's a real change of pace to Cannon Fodder and Teamwork but it lets Memory develop the central character in a different way that not only showcases her vulnerability but also supporting characters from the other novellas.  Read them all, and in order and you'll really enjoy them.