Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: When the Music Stops by John T. Fuller

4.5 Stars

M/M, novella.   

Fuller's novella leaves me so torn -- literally forcing me to jump back and forth over a barbed wire fence and hiss with the cuts I’ve been given.

On the one side, part of me wants to shout: “Professional misconduct --  just such a severe and heartbreaking shattering of patient-doctor trust”. Fuller introduces us to Mr. Archer, a doctor in a psychiatric institution whose obsession with a very gentle mute (Mr. White) takes him into dangerous waters, especially as Mr. White is under Archer's care. But Fuller gives us a stark reminded of the times, of the “surgery” that patients like Mr. White were forced to go through. The events that unfold with Dr. Archer become White’s only escape route. Even though it does seem that Dr Archer plays God with whom he saves, and why.

In those first few pages, it seemed to purely take lust to shake Archer's compassion free for Mr. White, and it had me more than a little angered: it didn’t feel any deeper than a surface attraction... at first. But then (back over the fence again) I’m reminded about the frustrations over not being able to gather patient history, how Archer was given a man hidden in a cloud of mystery, but a man with such an innocence he danced his way through it and captured the reader’s heart. It’s easy to see why Archer would fall for White, and that's what makes this wrong: that I agreed with the breech of trust. Which is why this story comes with a barbed-wire fence, or at least one I need to go and cut a few strips from and purge me out of the wrongness of the whole situation and repeat ten times VERY quickly: it is wrong for a doctor to seduce a mentally ill patient.

I loved that I was given no history for Mr. White, that he kept his innocence throughout, even though he did become aware to certain external stimulation. I also like that Mr Archer had the same pureness in body as Mr. White. I would have been thrown out of the story more if he’d been shown to have a normal sex life.

So this one played with my sense of right and wrong so badly, enough to not like myself for a while.

And for that reader-writer interaction, I salute Mr. Fuller with 4.5 very "don’t mess with my head again" stars.

Novella Available Here 

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