A satirical dream-logic journey through the dark heart of 1950s Los Angeles
Dr. Frederick Eichner, world-renowned dermatologist, is visited by the entrancingly irritating Felix Treevly who comes to him as a patient and stays as an obsession.
Prosaic incidents blossom into bizarre developments with the sharpened reality of dreams as the spectral Mr. Treevly leads the doctor into a series of increasingly weird situations. With the assistance of a drunken private detective, a mad judge, a car crash, a game show called What’s My Disease, and a hashish party, Treevly drives Eichner to madness and mayhem. It is through comedy and a strange blend of violence and poetic delicacy that the novel charms.
Southern’s first novel, Flash and Filigree was turned down by 17 timorous American publishers. It was Southern’s mentor, the "genius" English novelist Henry Green, who brought the book to the attention of a leading British publishing house, which released it to high praise. A fast-paced dark comedy, Flash and Filigree established Terry Southern as one of the finest American prose stylists to emerge in Paris after the War.
i didn't find this to be all that good actually. I liked Candy and Magic Christian which I read some time ago, and of course his work on Strangelove, but this seemed a little flat.
I kept thinking of Paddy Chayefsky and his dark humor and satire I think due to the Hospital film with GC Scott. The doctor in this is the best part, and even that could have been ramped up a bit. what this book lacks could very easily have been supplied by beefing up the doctor, which sounds odd since the story revolves around him, but something felt missing to me. it starts well and funny.
There is a very good courtroom scene early on where the doctor weasels out of trouble or at least tries to. That is done perfectly and is applicable to current times with all the double speak of corporations and politicians and I wish that line had been the whole novel. the alternating story fell flat for me.
it is short and so not a great expenditure of time if you want to try it.