By: Garin Cycholl
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: February 2022
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: January 8, 2022
After witnessing the lengthy illness and death of his father, the somewhat despondent main character in the novel Rx, by Garin Cycholl, decides to leave his hometown and take to the open road with only some of his late father’s old medical possessions jammed in the trunk of his car, and most critically, his father’s identity, Doctor Rex Ayers.
Shortly after leaving his hometown, "Doctor Rex Ayers" decides to settle down in a remote part of rural, middle America, and surprisingly, is able to easily find employment as a medical professional. His original intention was to pose as a psychiatrist, believing it to be the easiest and most fun of specialties. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the town is in more of a dire need of a general practitioner because the infamous regular town doctor had recently left his practice, leaving the position vacant. Despite being wildly out of his league, and relying heavily upon foggy memories of his childhood, occasionally accompanying his father at work, as well as his father’s outdated medical textbooks (along with the previously fired addict nurse whom he rehired and is also having a personal relationship with), the new Dr. Rex Ayers manages to stumble his way through his workday seeing patients, and even gets a position at the local hospital.
Things begin to get a bit hairy and complicated when two ongoing critical events start occurring. First, one of “Dr Ayers’” patients, a man claiming to be a former military man in his sixties, comes in with some medical issues. Issues that don’t seem to be responding to the treatment that is being guessed at by the medical conman, and actually seem to be not only getting worse, but are oddly mimicking symptoms that could be related to unrest that is occurring throughout America. And secondly, the “doctor” is intermittently receiving mysterious letters claiming that the writer knows who he really is. But will this person reveal Dr Ayers’ true identity, or will his patient ultimately cause much more damage to the entire country?
Rx initially appears to be a good concept for a fictional, and well-written (not surprising considering it's penned by a literature professor) story about a conman impersonating a medical professional set in a time of American upheaval. However, the story is anything but light and easy (bordering on disturbing at times) and may be a bit of a challenge to read, partly because of the heavy literary prose filled with metaphor, historical reference, etc., that may be missed out on by some readers. The ending also leaves readers with a lot of unanswered questions, which is perhaps done purposely by the author to allow for a sequel. Overall, Garin Cycholl's Rx is a complex literary creation that will take readers on an interesting journey, if they're up for the task.
Quill says: If you're in search of an interesting read, consider Rx by Garin Cycholl. It will challenge you and keep you thinking.