Headhunter is not a book to read if you want the word "settled" to enter your vocabulary any time in the near future. It is perhaps as unsettling a book as I am willing to read, and yet, I've read it three or four times now. It keeps drawing me back, for all its horror.
Kurtz has escaped from Heart of Darkness
and is loose on the streets of Toronto. Well, not only loose, but the
head of a psychiatric institution, and there, he is delving even further
into the darkest depths of the human psyche than perhaps he has ever
Lilah Kemp, schizophrenic and spiritualist, was the
one who accidentally let him out of the book where he should have
stayed. She attempts to negotiate madnesses real and perceived in order
to get him back in.
And of course, every Kurtz has his Marlowe, a
new psychiatrist taking up a job at the same institution, and walking
into a world of more darkness and horror than he expected.
are these damaged children coming from? Why is one of his fellow
psychiatrists becoming erratic and desperate? What secrets are the walls
holding - and who do those secrets belong to?
is a story of madnesses, of who wants to control the mad, and who wants
to help them learn to live with their madness. Of what happens when the
rich of Toronto, old money and nouveau riche alike find themselves in a
maelstrom of hidden desires, unleashed on the city with the
encouragement of some of those who are supposed to be helping them.
underlines this book, money and what those who have a lot of power,
might also desire to do, and to what depths they might willingly sink.
exists in this book on a societal level, on an individual level, on a
family level. And it is accompanied by a desire for control, as Kurtz
tries to see how much power letting others travel down the darkest
depths of their own desires might give him.
As well as Kurtz
and Marlowe, Jay Gatsby and Emma Bovary make guest starring appearances
in this book, and it makes me wonder if there are other allusions I
Findley went very, very dark with Headhunter and yet I keep coming back to it.