Friday, December 2, 2016

The Cure, by Athol Dickson

What if one pill could cure alcoholism?  Should the cure be sold, or given freely?  Athol Dickson's thoughtful novel The Cure asks just that question.  When former missionary and current drunk Riley Keep hears rumors of homeless people in his hometown being cured of alcoholism, he treks back from his self-imposed exile to see it for himself.  Not only is he cured, but he soon finds himself in possession of a sample of the cure and, more importantly, the formula to produce it.

When he secretly tries to get it produced and marketed, he causes nothing but trouble for his town, his ex-wife, and just about anyone else involved.  This is one of those stories where I kept thinking, "You are so stupid." But to Dickson's credit, by the end of The Cure, the seemingly unreasonable actions of Riley and others make a lot more sense.  So if you're half-way through, and think, "I can't stand any more of these people's dumb choices," stick with it.

Dickson seems to have a good grasp of alcoholism and the grip it can have on people.  I couldn't help but ask some of the same questions Riley asks himself.  What do you do with such a cure?  Can you justify profiting from it?  Should I give it away?  I wish Dickson would have developed this question more realistically.  There are commercially available drugs that are both sold and given away.  I don't think it would be that hard to propose a means by which a drug to cure alcoholism could be both commercially viable and could be made available to poor alcoholics.  Develop a foundation, distribute through Medicaid, something. . . .

In spite of my frustration with some of the development, I enjoyed the book overall, and, even if a pill to cure alcoholism is only a figment of fiction (for now), The Cure still has a great message for alcoholics.  Check it out.

2016 Reading Challenge: A book you own but have never read

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