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The Muse Asylum by David Czuchlewski

The Muse Asylum
By David Czuchlewski
Completed December 15, 2007

Perhaps when you’re mentored by Joyce Carol Oates, you are destined for greatness. I think that’s the case for young writer, David Czuchlewski, who nailed a fantastic story in his debut novel, The Muse Asylum.

Jake Burnett is a recent Princeton grad, assigned by his newspaper editor to discover the secret identity of famed writer, Horace Jacob Little. Little has lived a J.D. Salinger-like life. He is totally secluded, never been photographed and will not grant media interviews. Burnett has his work cut out for him.

While at a party, he stumbles into an old flame, Lara, who asks for his help in passing along a letter to her old boyfriend, Andrew, who is institutionalized at “The Muse Asylum” – a psychiatric hospital for the creatively gifted. Andrew, while at Princeton, became obsessed with Horace Jacob Little’s writing. In his thesis, Andrew proposed that the real Little was killed shortly after publishing his first works and that an imposter was writing under Little’s name for many years. Having discovered Little’s “secret,” Andrew spirals into paranoid delusion, believing that Little is out to get him, sending spies to follow him around campus and tapping his phone and dorm room.

Czuchlewski’s story takes you through the mind of Andrew, which I found very fascinated. Andrew’s obsession with Little destroyed his college career, love life and ability to function in society. His mental illness is depicted with love and sympathy. I found myself rooting for Andrew to find the magic formula of medicine and therapy to help him.

The Muse Asylum is an exhilarating ride. I finished it in about three sittings; I was so enthralled with the story line that I had a hard time putting it down. I will warn you that there are several literary allusions in this novel, and I found having my laptop around with Wikipedia launched was very helpful, especially with the references to the poetry of Dante and Wilfred Owen. If you like shock endings (Jodi Picoult) or psychological mysteries (Chuck Palahniuk), you will love The Muse Asylum. But even if don’t, I would still recommend The Muse Asylum. It’s a great book from a promising young author. ( ) 


Dec. 16th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
As I am learning more about your reading tastes from your reviews, I was thinking this would be a book you would enjoy. Pile it on!

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