Monday, August 17, 2009

Tetrasomy Two by Oscar Rossiter

Sometimes a book just jumps out at you. That was the case with this book. I was checking out at a used book store when I saw a table of discounted books. As I scanned the table I saw the name "Tetrasomy Two". The name catches your attention. Reading the back cover made me think of a Philip K. Dick novel.

The mind that runs the universe is locked in the body of a person in an asylum. What better place to hide?

The author naturally reveals the personality of the various characters until you start thinking of them as real people. The main character is Dr. Boyd. He reminds me of Monk on the USA Network TV show. It is obvious that he has numerous problems. As the story progresses the reader starts thinking that the doctor might be going insane. Are any of the things described by the doctor happening or is he suffering a breakdown? The reader is not sure until the final two pages.

I must also admit to being surprised by the revelation near the end. I will not spoil it for you but you will know what I mean when you read it. It was one of those great moments that made sense after you read it.

If you are a fan of Philip K. Dick or Barry Malzberg, hunt down this book. You will enjoy it.

After finishing it, I went in search of more books by Oscar Rossiter. Why did I not hear of him before? Probably because this is his only novel. The author, whose real name was Vernon Skeels, quit writing after completing this novel. Between his professional career and writing Tetrasomy Two, it left no time for his family. The choice was simple for Skeels, family came first.

In the final days of his life, his children would read this novel to him as he lay in a rest home. He was proud to tell people that he wrote a novel.

Why did he use a pen name? Because of his work as a psychiatrist in Seattle. He worried that people would get upset if they thought he used their personality and cases in a novel. Like most good novelists, he used real life as inspiration but did not copy specific cases.

A month after finishing this book, I still wonder what he would have produced if he had continued writing.

Rating: 5 out of 5.