Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Season Among Psychics

A Season Among Psychics / Elizabeth Greene
Toronto: Inanna, c2018.
304 p.

This was a bit of an odd read -- it's a serious and in-depth look at the "Results System" created by Margaret Kean (an energetic healing process) through the main character Judith's presence in a study group, but also a wry story of Judith's life as a professor, skeptic and mother.

Judith is 50, a professor of English, and the mother of an autistic son. She's also a bit at loose ends in her life, feeling adrift and missing Brian, a writing instructor she feels she has a telepathic connection with.

She and a friend decide to go to a local psychic fair as the book opens, and there Judith meets Rosetta Kempffer, someone she knows slightly. Rosetta is now a working healing practitioner, and draws Judith in to her small, individualized class on personal healing. Her very expensive class.

Judith is simultaneously cynical and naive. She comments on the class like a skeptic, but also believes it wholeheartedly. The author describes each class fully - basically you've taken it yourself, without the practice runs, by the end of the book. It's weirdly boring and compelling at the same time. Judith tries this system out on her son, and takes a road trip to meet up with Brian near the end, to do the same. Brian is odd and unwelcoming and I couldn't really see why an educated, grown woman was obsessing over him in the way that Judith was. There were even hints that he was in a relationship with his 'roommate', but Judith didn't seem to pick those up.

I am not really sure what to say about this book. It was unique; it had some interesting characters, especially Vivienne, a friend Judith makes in the class. There is a leavening of humour in the very earnest descriptions of the "Results Method", most of which reminds me of people I've met who are really into 'energy' and chakras and so forth.  It's another book in which I'm not sure if the author is 100% believing in what she's writing or satirizing it, even gently.

I can say that I loved the cover of this book, and its descriptions of the clothes Vivienne makes and wears. I liked the rest, even while finding it mildly perplexing. What was the point of this novel? I'm not quite sure, and I am not sure about the conclusion either. It's all a bit up in the air. And how much is novel and how much reportage? This story read like a report on this 'results system', mixed in with a diary, mixed in with a sprinkle of fictional fairy dust. I don't know what to make of it, but it did keep me reading steadily all the way through. I think I will have to leave it there!

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