From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain Paperback – Jan 30 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Masquerading as a self-help book for superheroes, this sharp satire of caped crusaders hides a deeper critique of individual treatment versus social injustice. Faust (The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad) provides funny and knowing caricatures of the famous figures of American comic books via an extended therapy session by Dr. Eva Brain-Silverman. Analyzing their various mental hangups, Dr. Brain attempts to help heroes like irascible billionaire crime-fighter Festus Piltdown III ("Flying Squirrel") overcome the rejection of his foster ward, Tran Chi Hanh ("Chip Monk"). But African-American hero Philip Kareem Edgerton ("X-Man") resists, insisting that recent events in "sunny Los Ditkos" are signs of a coup within F*O*O*J ("Fantastic Order of Justice") and not RNPN ("Racialized Narcissistic Projection Neurosis"). Faust's well-aimed jabs spare no super sacred cows nor many pop idols and pychobabbling media stars. Underneath the humor, careful readers will find uncomfortable parallels to real-world urban tragedies in the novel's "July 16 Attacks," where Faust gives a double meaning to the "Crisis of Infinite Dearths." (Jan. 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Faust's latest is a self-help book for superheroes struggling with a post-Gotterdammerung lack of supervillains to fight, based on psychiatrist Eva Brain-Silverman's case studies of six fractious members of the Fantastic Order of Justice, aka the F*O*O*J. As "Dr. Brain" takes her six patients through some fascinating therapeutic processes, secrets and hidden tensions come to light. In the midst of it all, Hawk King, an ancient Egyptian deity and the most respected superhero, dies. Immediate grave repercussions include accusations of murder and conspiracy by self-proclaimed world's greatest detective and former LAB (League of Angry Blackmen) member X-Man, and the resignation from F*O*O*J of Omnipotent Man, a 71-year-old refugee from the planet Argon. As the F*O*O*J descends into a maelstrom of recrimination, internal power struggles, and personal secrets brought to unforgiving light, the role of the superhero becomes less antisupervillain and more--for lack of a better word--preemptive. Faust's follow-up to The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad (2004) is an excellent superhero comedy as well as an unsettling satire. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is wonderfully complicated.
The characters are horribly disfunctional in so many believable ways.
There are tens of subtle jokes per page. No, I mean per paragraph. No, per sentence.
This author is awesome in his use of language. He is awesome in the breadth of subject matter he touches on. He is beyond awesome in humor.
I haven't been captivated by brilliant language, stunning depth, and engrossing story line in any book since The Big U, by Neal Stephenson, came out more than 20 years ago.
(Before I go on, no I am not related to Grand Minister Faust.)
This SF story is completely ridiculous and impossible.
You will find that you are living it today. In reading this, you will gain insights which you can use (if only to laugh about) in your life tomorrow.
This is the book you will read, then buy more copies of to loan to your friends.
Its a blast. Now I am going to turn back to page 1 and read it again.
This is a book within a book, with a psychiatrist trying to get into the heads of some increasingly anti-social superheroes. Their histories slowly unfold over the course of the tale and involve cataclysms, family drama, and personal vendettas on a par with the classic _The Watchmen_. Awesome read for comic-book fans.
Especially clever are the deliciously exaggerated metaphors and similes Dr. Brain uses, courtesy of our author, Faust. Having read my number of self-help and psychology books, they're true parody gold.
This book is clearly meant to be a satire, but the author has no finesse with his humor. The jokes come on thick, irrelevant, and detract/distract from the already flaccid storyline.
The same is true of his main characters. The parallels to existing superheroes and superhero organizations are blatant and uninspired, and the characters come off uniformly as shallow and insipid. Their personalities are cliché, one dimensional, and propped up with accents and dialects that make merely slogging through the dialogue a feat of superhuman proportion.
The writing itself is mind-numbingly contrived as well. An adverb for every verb, an adjective for every noun, slathered on in a style that invokes images of the author crouching in front of his computer, thesaurus in hand, trying to fill out a novel with fluff instead of plot. Perhaps, given that this book is supposed to be written from the perspective of Dr. Brain, this is intentional - another cliché among many. The difference is academic - I wouldn't recommend this book to ANYONE.
There's so much here, so many layers that it boggles the mind. From the superficial Dr. Eva Brain-Silverman to the deeply misunderstood X-Man to the slick and sly Brotherfly, this book pops with flavour, well-developed characters, and a sense of history that's overwhelming. These characters have incredible superpowers, but the most interesting is the X-Man's logogenic powers, I find. He can turn words into anything; is that not what writing creatively is about? It would almost seem that the X-Man may be a bit of the writer himself in a subtle way.
The Flying Squirrel is the crustiest old superhero on the face of the planet; an aging Bruce Wayne parody that is seriously disillusioned with the world. Omnipotent Man is the Superman parody that simply had to be done; he's Superman's hick cousin with a serious problem. Power Grrl is the new girl's idol; smart, bleach-headed blonde with amazing pipes and a HEAT Ray that makes clones of herself, in itself a critique. The Brotherfly is what Spider-man could have become had he been black and bitten by a fly instead of a spider. Iron Lass is the Nordic Wonder Woman, a Valkyrie and the old guard of feminism.
I won't say much more than this; read it. Support this fantastic author and hope that he continues writing to this calibre and wit.