Saturday, June 17

favorite novel online, by Matt Ruff

One of my favorite novels of the last few years was Matt Ruff's Set This House In Order, which delves inside the mind of a young guy coping with multiple personality disorder. I've wanted to buy it for friends for their birthdays (just today, even—hence this post). But hardly any books stores stock it. So I'm stumping for the book.

You can read the first four chapters online, I just found out, on the author's website. But to give you a sense of what it's about, here's a bit from the Powell's Books review:
Imagine being greeted on the street by a stranger who seems to know you well, finding cigarettes in your purse when you don't smoke, discovering clothes in your closet you don't remember purchasing (and perhaps never would have, given a choice) and notes addressed to yourself telling you how to get to work and reminding you where you are.

If this sounds like the beginning of a science fiction novel — something written by Sewer, Gas & Electric author Matt Ruff, perhaps — you are halfway there. Matt Ruff's third novel deals with the scenarios above, but in this case the subject matter is multiple personality disorder, and the time and place is contemporary Seattle....

Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls is the story of two such sufferers. Without voyeurism or sensationalism, in fact with incredible sensitivity and grace, Matt Ruff creates a unique narrator in the person(ality) of Andrew Gage. Andrew is an alter created by the community of personalities who live within Andy Gage, Andy's principal self having been subsumed by years of abuse at the hands of a sadistic stepfather. Andrew was created to run the exterior life of Andy, and, with the help of the internal father figure Aaron, he manages a precarious balancing act of making sure the other alters are allowed their time in the sun and a say in how Andy's life is led. Many years of therapy have gotten Andy this far, and his friend Julie and landlady, Mrs. Winslow, aid in his day-to-day life with love and acceptance.


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