Friday, March 22, 2013

Solo Pass-Ronald De Feo

Solo Pass

Ronald De Feo

Other Press, Mar 5 2013, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590515860

Almost two months have passed since Ott has been outside alone amongst the conformists, but now feels prepared to venture forth on a Solo Pass while promising his handlers to return to the mental ward that has been his home since his breakdown. He carefully played by their rules answering just enough to sound like he is recovering but not enough so they feel he no longer needs them and especially conceals his loathing towards vicious therapist Prodski, who Ott believes should be a solitary confined patient in the asylum. Ott still is stunned when he is granted a Solo Pass by the staff to the outside world of New York City.

As he ventures forth, Ott’s phobia of simply vanishing away increases while he also muses over returning to the Cotswold’s village he may be from (or not). Even Ott distrusts Ott as the city of his thoughts fails to match the city he wanders in.

Solo Pass is an intriguing satire told in the first person by Ott, who make a strong case that the difference between lunacy and normalcy is societal definitional acceptance; the norms must not condemn the nonconformist ill. Ott is a superb lead as he never seems quite comfortable with others including inmates whether inside or out and struggles to control his destructive compulsions and his crippling phobias; he is most at ease within his head dreaming of his past that may never have happened. Although the support cast especially inside the mental ward is extremely thin, readers, reminded of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, will relish a New York tour guided by the mind of Ott.

Harriet Klausner

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