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by Harvey Jacobs from ReAnimus Press
In the last hours of his hectic life, Simon Apple faces up to the hard truth that his very survival represents a prescription for disaster, not only for the pharmaceutical industry but for the nation itself!
How Simon is transformed from an innocent, loving child in a small midwestern city into Public Enemy Number One by a series of dizzying Side Effects makes for an unforgettable medical misadventure in an age when a new miracle drug, promising paradise, comes along every day — just in time for the Evening News. Side Effects is a rollicking read, the story of a hapless hero caught in an existential whirl where there's a pill for every problem, give or take some unexpected consequences.
With a cover by Gahan Wilson.
About Harvey Jacobs
Harvey Jacobs is the award-winning author of "American Goliath" ("An inspired novel"—TIME Magazine). His short fiction has appeared in a wide spectrum of magazines in the USA and abroad including Esquire, The Paris Review, Playboy, Fantasy & Science Fiction, New Worlds, and many anthologies. In addition to the novels and short stories, he has written widely for television, the Earplay Project for radio drama, and helped create and name the Obie Awards for the Village Voice. He was publisher of the counterculture newspaper, East. He received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a New York Arts Council CAPS award for drama, a Playboy Fiction Award, and a Writers Guild of America script award.
PRAISE FOR SIDE EFFECTS
"The culture of pharmaceutical overkill is the subject--and target--of this high-energy fifth novel from the little-known comic surrealist whose best books (American Goliath, 1998, etc.) rival the late 20th-century antic fiction of Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller and Stanley Elkin.
"Its protagonist--and victim--is Simon Apple, whose uniquely embattled life (shaped by the unforeseen effects of prescribed medications) unrolls before him when he's on death row awaiting execution for a "murder" suspiciously linked to the very pharmaceutical company responsible for Simon's alarming bodily transformations. As Jacobs juxtaposes the story of Simon's life with details of his incarceration, the worst excesses of corporate greed and malfeasance, the cult of fame and the danger zones of sex and commitment are skewered with a ferocious energy that recalls the genial albeit pitch-black madness of Catch-22 and the weirdly wonderful new science of H.G. Wells's Tono-Bungay. As Simon is successively afflicted with "explosive growth," the possession of (first) antlers then gills, penile contraction and expansion, electronically mischievous flatulence and other arcane dysfunctions, his usefulness as poster boy for corporate behemoth Regis Pharmaceuticals is pronounced dead. And CEO Regis Van Clay, an egomaniacal masochist of hilariously epic dimensions, schemes to erase the blot on his company's escutcheon that perpetually ailing Simon has become.
"At times this novel's ebullient particulars threaten to overwhelm the reader, but beating beneath its manic surface (like Simon's unstoppable heart) is a brilliant expressionistic portrayal of an all-too-human sufferer "doomed to live life at arm's length, a stranger to everyone including himself." Despite numerous antecedents and influences, Jacobs's monstrous satire is a truly original work.
"A great comic novel and a huge leap forward for one of America's most underrated and accomplished writers.
— Kirkus Review
Side Effects recounts the medical misadventures of Simon Apple, whose life has been one long battle with Miracle Cures, each of which requires yet another Miracle Cure to curb an increasingly bizarre series of unintended consequences. Now, Simon awaits the lethal stroke of midnight on Death Row when he will make the supreme sacrifice—giving his life for the sake of the pharmaceutical industry. A steady parade of visitors—family, friends, enemies and lovers come to wish him bon voyage on the day of his final exit—while Simon's nemesis, Regis Van Clay, celebrates. Side Effects is a rollicking ride through a life that ranges from horrendous to hilarious, a resonant contemporary reading adventure where RX marks the spot.
REVIEWS OF THE AUTHOR'S PREVIOUS BOOKS
An inspired novel.
A masterpiece...arguably this year's best novel.
Bells clanging, lights aflash, the plot's ball bangs and
rebounds. . . . A wonderful and wonderfully funny book.
His characters are haunting. . . . I have rarely enjoyed finding
a writer as much as I have enjoyed my own discovery of Jacobs.
He manages to satirize our all-too-human foibles and failures
without becoming too blackly unforgiving.
—Thomas M. Disch
Quietly amused, wry approach that gives distinction to Mr.
Jacobs' work . . . his dry humor would be hard to improve on.
The Saturday Review
A wonderfully engrossing read. . . . I recommend it to
everyone who has given up of ever again being entertained at
such a high level of aspiration.
A bawdy, joyous romp . . . it's a wonderful book.
Look upon the amazing world of Harvey Jacobs! Come one,
come all, for an experience never to be forgotten!
Like Doctorow's Ragtime and George R. R. Martin's Fevre
Dream, it's totally realized.
A great book should aspire (and succeed) in making you
laugh, making you cry and just maybe, making you
think. . . . Harvey's novels will do all that.
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