It's been said that there is a fine line between genius and madness; Jon Bassoff walks that line like an acrobat at a circus. He writes the type of prose that will have you seek out his picture so you can have a visual answer to who in their right mind would come up with these ideas. His latest book, TheIncurables, is a masterpiece and just may be the best book I read in 2015.
The book takes place in the 1950s, during a time when the old guard of psychiatric practices were being forced out by a more humane and practical manner of dealing with mental illnesses. Dr. Walter Freeman believes in performing lobotomies with an ice pick and a hammer and his contemporaries are forcing him out of the hospital he has worked at for many years.
Freeman believes his dismissal is an injustice, but an injustice that may benefit mankind--as he now has the ability to travel the country looking for those who need his help. He promises to take the most violent and deranged patients and cure them just by inserting an ice pick into their brains and pounding it with a hammer a few times. As proof his methods work, he travels the country with a patient of his, a former violent criminal, now reduced to a drooling slow-witted man.
Freeman enters the town of Burnwood, which has a cast of characters all begging to get an ice pick to their brains to cure what ails them (at least that’s how Freeman sees them). As Freeman attempts to save the citizens from the evils that rage inside them, the town itself is being pulled apart by a crazy preacher, his would-be messiah son named Durango, a local whore named Scent, and a whole cast of others with revenge on their minds for wrongs committed against them.
Bassoff is one of the premier authors being published today. His books ooze darkness and despair in a manner few can duplicate. He doesn’t just write books, he offers journeys into depravity for his readers. His prose is a display of beauty, yet calls to mind decay and rot. To attempt to define his work by putting it into a specific genre is an effort in futility. It is best just to say he is a genius with words and his work will knock you on your ass.
This book called to mind one of Stephen King’s best works. The manner in which Bassoff allows his characters’ minds to slowly rot and slip away is something I haven’t been so awed by since I read The Shining over twenty years ago. I am convinced that Bassoff will only get better with each new book. In the same way we often see current day authors being labeled as the “Next Stephen King”, I think in twenty years we will be looking for the “Next Jon Bassoff”.
Anyone who is smart enough to pick up this winner should be prepared for a sleepless night; they won’t put it down until it's completed. Bassoff deserves to either be locked away in an insane asylum or at least put on their “Must Watch” list. At the bare minimum he should be on everyone’s “Must Read” list because he just might be locked away very soon. Enjoy him while you can.
Highly, Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Derrick Horodyski