of Maine

Chris Adrian, The Children’s Hospital
August 22, 2008, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Words | Tags: , , ,

Depressing, frustrating, dazzlingly imaginative, and intensely confrontational in equal measure, Chris Adiran’s The Children Hospital is one meaty read. It’s an apocalyptic novel – one night, a proverbial great flood arrives, leaving the world buried in seven miles of water while the titular hospital remains afloat – and tackles the issues that come with it in surprising ways. The Children’s Hospital deals in gore, illness, miracles, spirituality, imminent doom, social experimentation, and random quirk, resulting in a style that’s something between a prototype of magical realism and a horror story. The hospital, seemingly controlled by a “preserving angel” (who, confusingly for a while, narrates the novel), mutates to fit its inhabitants’ needs. Food and necessities can be replicated by machine, rooms expand and contract, warped children near death and are healed by supernatural encounters.

Much of the challenge of finishing the 600+ page book comes from the way Adrian is unafraid to pose hope, despair, and inevitability in unwavering confrontations. You get the feeling that its author, both a doctor and a divinity student, is constantly burdened by those battles. The Children’s Hospital is powerful and audacious enough to put you through the same wringer.

My colleague at the Boston Phoenix interviewed Adrian about the novel last year, which resulted in this essential, emotional article. And my Chris Adrian experience has just begun: I’ll be reading his first book, Gob’s Grief, and his brand new collection of short stories, A Better Angel, in the coming days as I get cracking on this contest.

I’ve read a whole lot more this week; work permitting, some links coming later in the day. There will be termites.


2 Comments so far
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Good luck in the contest!

Comment by Waldo Jaquith


Comment by ofmaine

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