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In Bedlam Burning, Geoff Nicholson turns his satirical gaze to the ivy covered walls of academia and the rubber rooms of an insane asylum. It all starts at Cambridge University, in the rooms of Dr. John Bentley, a don famous for his book burning parties-"a little, active symbolic literary criticism"-where guests are invited to incinerate books.
It is at one such party that Gregory Collins, brilliant but unprepossessing, meets Mike Smith, a handsome classmate. When Collins's first novel, The Wax Man, is accepted for publication, he convinces Smith to take his place on the book jacket. As a result, it is Smith rather than Collins who receives the offer to be writer-in-residence at the asylum run by Dr. James Kincaid, whose obscure therapeutic philosophy centers on the soothing powers of literature. When Smith compiles a book of the inmates' writings, and it becomes a literary success, this comedy of errors threatens to become a tragedy.
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Geoff Nicholson is the author of twenty books, including Sex Collectors, Hunters and Gatherers, The Food Chain, and Bleeding London, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize. He divides his time between Los Angeles and LondonFrom Publishers Weekly:
The English comic tradition has always shown a fine weakness for a little lunacy, and Nicholson's 13th novel (after Bleeding London, a Whitbread Prize finalist) is the latest variation on that theme. Michael Smith is a handsome Cambridge graduate working a dead-end job at a rare book dealer's in the mid-'70s. Fellow grad Gregory Collins has written a novel and wants to use Michael's picture for the author photograph. The hoax gets more complex when Gregory persuades Michael to continue the imposture by giving a reading of the novel at a Brighton bookstore. In the sparse audience, which includes Michael's disapproving girlfriend, Nicola, is a gorgeous psychiatrist, Alicia Crowe, who persuades Michael-as-Gregory to be writer-in-residence at a local lunatic asylum. Michael accepts for two reasons: he's bored at the bookstore and wants to bed Alicia. The real Gregory approves, partly because he's slept with Nicola. Michael finds the Kincaid Clinic to be as strange as one would expect, and his attempts to turn a colorfully psychopathological crew into creative writing students eventually bears prolix fruit. He also discovers the dubious joys of making love to Alicia, who is a coprophemic a dirty talker. Michael finds Dr. Kincaid's extreme regulations unsettling: Kincaid bans pictures, photographs and drawings from the asylum, because, as he explains, the patients "have all seen too many images." The fragile situation begins to fall apart when a selection of the inmates' writing is actually published. The ensuing attention blows Michael's cover, but will his former Cambridge professor, John Bentley, unmask him? Nicholson's book, like a Fawlty Towers episode, delightfully stretches sanity to its farcical breaking point. Film rights optioned by New Line Cinema. (Feb.)Forecast: If Nicholson ever manages to break out in the U.S. a few prominent reviews would help he might well attract a loyal cult following.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Overlook Books, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111585672394