Monday, October 5, 2009

The Cure by Athol Dickson

I love books that stir my soul, and challenge my thinking; stories with no easy answers, and that are difficult to put down make me smile. The Cure is that sort of book.

The story began with Riley Keep "returning to the scene of his disgrace in the back of a northbound pickup truck." Keep, a former pastor, missionary, teacher...and a homeless alcoholic--was taking his dying alcoholic friend, Brice, from Florida to his hometown Dublin, Maine. They had heard rumors by way of the homeless network of a cure for alcoholics.

Keep arrived in the town of Dublin which was overcrowded with homeless alcoholics looking for the cure they had heard about. Keep's long gray hair and beard rendered him unidentifiable to anyone who knew him seven years before when he left Dublin full of shame. He's happy to keep it that way while he looks for the cure of which he has heard. The crowds of people were certain the cure existed, and Riley crossed paths with some who said they had taken the cure and no longer wanted to drink.

Brice and Keep stayed at the local homeless shelter on the Saturday night they arrived. During the night, Brice managed to get a bottle of rubbing alcohol, drank it, and died. Keep was devastated, and on Sunday morning, he saw a bumper sticker that said "Jesus Loves You." He thought that if God really loved him, He'd do something to make him happy. So he asked God for something good to drink. Shortly afterward he found a brown paper bag in the park with "a complete quart of the finest single-malt Scotch whiskey."

After a few swallows, Keep headed to church believing he should thank God for the "gift." When the offering plate came around, however, he tried to filch money out of it. He ended up with an envelope containing a small amount of white powder, and a piece of paper with a note, and a chemical equation written on it.

Riley's journey has a lot of twists, turns, and hair raising moments. Dickson says of his stories, "I write novels. The genre is hard to describe. Some people think of them as 'suspense' or 'mystery' but they also have a strong sense of 'magical realism' and spiritual themes." The Cure explores a number of the difficulties with which many believers struggle.

If you'd like to read more about Dickson, you can find him on FaceBook, and at these web sites: and . The Marion County Public Library has a number of his books on the shelves.