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Issue 63 - Split personality

Whisky Magazine Issue 63
April 2007

 

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Split personality

Jefferson Chase offers us another recent whisky read

The moral of Matt Ruff's Set This House in Order might be: watch out for the eggnog – especially if you can't be entirely sure who's drinking it.

Baffled? You should be. The hero of this complex novel of suspense from 2003 is a so-called “multiple,” an individual whose personality splits into separate identities or “souls” in response to a massive childhood trauma. The lead personality is called Andy Gage – but as we soon learn, he's got some heavy competition.

The book opens with an account of Andy's birth and his complicated mental landscape.

With the help of a good doctor named Danielle Grey, my father worked to establish order. In place of the dark room, he constructed a geography in Andy Gage's head, a sun-lit countryside where the souls could see and talk to one another. He created the house, so they'd have a place to live…The effort to construct the house exhausted my father, and left him with little enthusiasm for dealing with the outside world. But someone had to run the body; and so, on the day the last shingle was nailed in place, my father went down to the lake and called my name.

It's a strategy that works. Despite the rival personalities in his head – which include a foul-mouthed adolescent, a Greek fitness fanatic and a banished evil spirit called Gideon – Andy Gage becomes a functional member of society, holding a job at a Seattle software company.

But in order to maintain control, the Andy Gage personality has to keep a clear head. And ...

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