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K-Pax Omnibus by Gene Brewer

K-Pax Omnibus

by Gene Brewer

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I saw the movie first and liked it enough to hope the book was better. It wasn't. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
The basic story is that the author/narrator is a psychotherapist in a mental institution, where a new patient by the name of “prot” (rhymes with goat) arrives. He claims to be a visitor from the planet K-PAX, and is only visiting Earth to study.

The narrator disbelieves him, instead taking him to be a facet of a split personality that the actual bodily inhabitant created and is hiding behind. He uses various psychotherapeutic methods to coax the supposed hidden personality out, but at the same time prot is able to help many other patients of the institution in ways that the clinical staff just couldn’t do previously.

Over the course of the trilogy, various truths and untruths about prot are discovered, along with the same about the narrator. prot enables him to realise things about himself and his own family which had passed him by, including some quite remarkable insights.

The major question throughout the books is whether prot is what he says he is: an alien, or if the narrator’s diagnosis is correct. This ambiguity dominates the plot and the narrator’s thinking, and what seems like a resolution is often quickly disproved.

With regards to the supporting characters, I have to say that a good few of the other patients are very quickly glossed over, and some forgotten until suddenly returning to the action. Their mental deficiencies or illnesses are very conveniently non-identical and somewhat amusingly described, but there’s no real depth to them.

Style-wise, many of the chapters are supposed transcripts of the narrator’s sessions with prot, and so are full of short, snappy, back-and-forth dialogue, followed by the narrator’s conclusions at the end of each session. It can get a little repetitive after 700-odd pages, but the plot is sufficiently varied to keep things interesting.

I’ve not seen the film, but I have a vague recollection of Kevin Spacey being in the title role, and it helped to visualise prot with Spacey’s face/mannerisms. A lot of what prot does is physical in nature, and to apply an existing face to him was a big plus.

Is it worth reading? I’d say that the first book is just about sufficient as an intro to the world of prot, and it has a pretty hefty cliffhanger which means that the second is a necessity. For me, the third part of the trilogy was definitely an afterthought, as things are relatively nicely wrapped up earlier in the grand scheme of things. ( )
  gooneruk | Nov 17, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074756695X, Paperback)

When a man who claims to be from outer space is brought into the Manhattan Institute, the mental ward seems to be just the place for him. However, this patient is unlike anyone psychiatrist Dr. Gene Brewer has met before. Clever, inscrutable and utterly charismatic, Robert Porter calls himself 'prot' and has no traceable background - but he claims that he is an inhabitant of the planet K-PAX, a perfect world without wars, government or religion, and where every being co-exists in harmony. It's not long before the other patients are hanging on prot's every word. And even Dr Brewer starts to find himself convinced...This omnibus edition contains all three of the K-PAX novels, plus a bonus story, prot's report, and is as witty, quirky and enlightening as we have come to expect of Brewer's wonderful characters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:15 -0400)

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