Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Kenneth Weene's Memoirs from the Asylum

The author of Memoirs from the Asylum, Kenneth Weene, will join WITS's author's assistant Vonnie Faroqui on Writers in the Sky Podcast this Friday, June 11. Here is a review of the book.

Memoirs from the Asylum
Author: Kenneth Weene
ISBN: 978-0-9844219-5-4
Publisher: All Things that Matter Press, 2010
Link to purchase:
Reviewer Byline: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

Memoirs from the Asylum author Kenneth Weene has, with many twists and phobic turns, succeeded in writing a moving and fascinating exploration of the inner workings of the insane mind. Memoirs is set within the confines of a mental health institution and weaves its way through the lives and memories of the asylum’s patients, narrated from the internal perspective of two patients and their psychiatrist. The vision of life depicted within and around these 3 main characters makes a case for a larger societal madness as the author explores the bureaucracy surrounding and encapsulating the insane and their caregivers. As uncomfortable as some aspects of the book may be, these same passages hold illuminating power.

Well crafted, Memoirs from the Asylum has a developed plot line and believable story progression. The best aspect of the book is how the author has written from the perspective or inner thoughts of the characters. This is done with such realism, understanding and truth that it is easy to relate with the patient’s fears, frustrations, joys and triumphs. It is obvious that the author is writing from a deeper understanding of human motivation and psychosis. His treatment of his characters is compassionate and without judgment allowing the reader to formulate their own opinions and confront their own preconceptions and prejudices. Unlike so many other novels these days, Weene’s writing is not preachy or deliberately educational in tone, with well developed characters and originality that make for compelling reading.

At times the book is disturbing as it addresses and reveals many destructive societal attitudes and inhumanities. The author has skillfully lifted the veil of willful disinterest surrounding the mentally ill and shone a spot light on the role played by the greater culture in perpetuating and growing madness.
Full of memorable characters that are as tragic as they are comedic, this book proves itself in the great tradition of writing. Disturbingly honest and often graphic in nature Memoirs from the Asylum is an entertaining and enlightening read for adults.

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