Over the next 20 years, Stanley will go from catatonia to a semblance of normality (so long as there's no woman in sight and no sharp cutlery on the table). Eddie, however, will never play the leading role he'd envisioned, instead taking refuge in alcohol and recollections of the one woman he thinks he has let get away, the plainspoken, explosive Giovannella Dimucci. When Eddie first describes his patient's violent response to women, "he wondered if he'd gone too far, if he'd shocked her, but the mask dissolved and she leaned in close, her hand on his elbow. 'Sounds like the average man to me.'" As for Katherine McCormick, she will still visit every Christmas, hoping to at least see her husband if she can't see him get better.
Based on a true story, Riven Rock is unclassifiable, a discomforting and often hilarious mix of tragedy and comedy. (Only Orson Welles could do the book justice on film.) T. C. Boyle writes in a controlled frenzy of rich description and dialogue, pulling us up sharply each time we begin to wonder if his patient isn't a helpless victim. Eddie recalls one nurse before Stanley "got to her": "She was a shadow in a back corner of his mind, a cat you pick up to stroke and then put down again when it stops purring.... Now she was back in Rhode Island, with her mother, but the look of her that day, the way her eyes had melted away to nothing and the color had gone out of her so you could see every lash and hair on her head like brushstrokes in oil, came to him in infinite sadness."
Boyle has great empathy, but there is no avoiding his novel's comic energy. Stanley's first psychiatrist-jailer, Dr. Hamilton, is obsessed with primate sexuality and will go to Riven Rock only if Katherine funds a large living laboratory. He spends all of his time watching the imprisoned creatures copulate, a pathetic counterpoint to his patient's plight. The sight of the disheveled doctor following one animal encounter amuses even the suspicious Katherine. "To his credit, the doctor laughed too. And O'Kane, the bruiser, who'd gone absolutely pale at the tiny hominoids that couldn't have weighed a twentieth of what he did, joined in, albeit belatedly and with a laugh that trailed off into a whinny." Alas, all goes awry when Hamilton takes the joke too far and declares his chimps "the very devils--they're even worse than my patients." Riven Rock is a maximum-velocity study of love, primal energy, and what is sacrosanct in society: control. It is also about loyalty, absurdity, domesticity, and depravity, all of which, Boyle knows, coexist within the best of souls. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
RIVEN ROCK is not like anything you've ever read, but I'll attempt to relate it to something for the purposes of getting the point across. This book was a strange one. Read morePublished on March 8 2005 by BethDeHart
If it were not for "having" to read it for bookclub, I never would have picked this downer book up..... and still wished that I did not!Published on May 16 2004 by snowblaze
This book is a little slow to read but very well written. If you have ever worked in a psychiatric hospital, you will enjoy this book.Published on April 4 2004 by CJF
I had read "The Tortilla Curtain" with my book group and was intrigued by T.C. Boyle's style of writing. Read morePublished on June 12 2003
TC Boyle is my favorite author and Riven Rock was the only book of his I had not read (including his short story collections). I was very dissapointed in this work of his. Read morePublished on March 21 2003 by Don E. Smith
a must read. this book will make you both laugh and cringe, plus it manages to me moving at the same time. I can't reccomend it highly enough.Published on June 25 2002 by "ssssssssssssssssssssss"
Riven Rock is fiction based on history and it's worth reading for all its parts -- the fiction, the history and especially for the superb depiction of psychosis. Read morePublished on June 30 2001 by Michael Sandman
A very well-written, compelling tale. Really pulls you in and keeps your attention. The strangest part of all is that it is for the most part a true story. Read morePublished on June 29 2001 by V. Kibler