The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For any of you fans of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, here's an updated and fully horrorized version, complete with updated (and unfortunately real) conditions in mental health facilities, updated standard practices for lazy law enforcement, and even a supremely depressing commentary on a modern Dead Souls.
I honestly think this works out just fine as a very nasty horror without adding the special patient that the inmates call the Devil. We don't even need him running around with a bull's head, although the literary part of me LOVES how he's the Minotaur in the middle of the Labyrinth.
The true horror is the conditions of these silver mines. The institution kills its inmates. Be it neglect, poverty of the body and spirit, the way no one cares once you get in. Or the way it's so freaking easy to get committed. It's not about mental health treatment, especially with bare-bones budgets, minimal training, and substandard conditions. The people on the outside with any power are lining their pockets and don't care because their lives never intersect with those on the inside. The people on the inside, even the caretakers and doctors, are nearly as powerless under the grind of the machine as the people being drugged to the gills.
For they're just being warehoused. Drugged into stupefaction. And while this book doesn't go into the overflow problem and how many sufferers are just shunted into prison, the picture here is clear.
Kesey said it clear and LaValle reiterates: we're all stuck in the machine and can't see a way out of it.
This is good horror, but it's better commentary on us. Definitely a must-read for Kesey fans who want a big upgrade for our modern world.
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