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The devil in silver : a novel by Victor D.…
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The devil in silver : a novel (edition 2012)

by Victor D. LaValle

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4605538,690 (3.56)87
Pepper is a rambunctious big man, and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He's not mentally ill, but that doesn't seem to matter. On his first night, he's visited by a terrifying creature who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It's no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down. Pepper rallies three other inmates in a plot to fight back: Dorry, an octogenarian schizophrenic; Coffee, an African immigrant with severe OCD; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl. Battling the pill-pushing staff, one another, and their own minds, they try to kill the monster that's stalking them. But can the Devil die?… (more)
Member:jimctierney
Title:The devil in silver : a novel
Authors:Victor D. LaValle
Info:New York : Spiegel & Grau, 2012.
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle

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Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Pretty good. Had to get use to the style. Like Pepper and Loochie. Thought they were good together. ( )
  Eric_S_Hubbard | Jul 10, 2020 |
I am just as shocked that I found "The Devil in Silver" to be a three star read. This was a tough one for me to get through. I almost DNFed it at one point because I just found myself getting bored with this book. I think the reason why is that it started off as kind of a potential horror book that turned to thriller/mystery than a dialogue of sorts on how persons in our country are treated with mental health issues, to the current state of prejudice that exists in the U.S., to immigration, back to horror and back around again. I just kept waiting for an epic payoff and it didn't come.

"The Devil in Silver" starts off with a man named "Pepper" being carted off by the police to the New Hyde Hospital. Pepper we find out got into a fight with off duty cops he dropped him off there by saying that he has to be crazy to be fighting the police. I would say though that this is where the story lost me. Pepper is a white guy, a big old white guy, but white. I just can't believe in New York City the police would be this blatant to do this to someone who is not a POC. But that's just me and my hashtag lizard truth talking right now.

I say this about Pepper though cause it took me a while to realize that Pepper was white. Like almost to the 60 percent point when someone mentions his hair and I realized wait, Pepper isn't black? And then I realized another character was black and I think for a second I went into a momentary state of what the hell? Did I read this before and forget? And then I had to go back and re-read chapters and then finally gave up.

Pepper we realize is a bit lost. He has a crush on a neighbor and thought he was helping her out and now is locked up for a mandatory 72 hour hold. No I don't know if this is legal or not, since LaValle did some research on this I am going to guess this is legal, but it does suck.

And from there we start reading a book about the general everyday horrors of being in a psychiatric unit. I know that LaValle is trying to provoke a reaction to us as readers. And believe me I felt pity, anger, and just plain sorrow because of course I know and get this is probably a reality for a great deal of Americans out there. I am just puzzled to how horror fits in here. We get some peeks at horror with the talk of a "devil" roaming the unit and eating/killing people. But then we just shy away from that for pages and pages.

I really think the book could have been tightened up a bit. And not going to lie, when we get to the second act so to speak, after Pepper and his merry crew confront the devil I lost interest in the story. I tried to struggle through this and finally just finished it in one seating the other day so I can get this over and done with.

If you are going to read LaValle, I suggest you read "The Ballad of Black Tom" or "The Changeling." This book seems to be a hybrid of a lot of different genres and didn't do any of them very well IMHO. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Pepper doesn't belong in the psych ward, yet here he is, forced to face his assumptions about mental illness and a literal monster that roams the halls at night.

This is a solid so-so. It's amusing enough, but it feels loose, unpolished. I fear that Lavalle is using "but they're crazy" to excuse some inconsistencies in the characters. The novel does a good job, though, of capturing the Catch-22 that is mental healthcare in the US.

I will also note that Lavalle uses a variation on the term "bleed out" twice in this novel. This is developing into a pet peeve...authors seem to use this term so much, and I can't figure out why except maybe that it's pseudo-technical and feels kind of like insider language. Maybe it's kind of like the feeling one gets when using big words (or maybe that's just me). Not that the term alone is going to turn me off on a novel any more than a split infinitive (also a pet peeve) is going to, it's just a pebble in my shoe. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
For any of you fans of [b:One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest|332613|One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest|Ken Kesey|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1516211014l/332613._SX50_.jpg|2100252], here's an updated and fully horrorized version, complete with updated (and unfortunately real) conditions in mental health facilities, updated standard practices for lazy law enforcement, and even a supremely depressing commentary on a modern [b:Dead Souls|28381|Dead Souls|Nikolai Gogol|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1387201057l/28381._SY75_.jpg|1001298].

I honestly think this works out just fine as a very nasty horror without adding the special patient that the inmates call the Devil. We don't even need him running around with a bull's head, although the literary part of me LOVES how he's the Minotaur in the middle of the Labyrinth.

The true horror is the conditions of these silver mines. The institution kills its inmates. Be it neglect, poverty of the body and spirit, the way no one cares once you get in. Or the way it's so freaking easy to get committed. It's not about mental health treatment, especially with bare-bones budgets, minimal training, and substandard conditions. The people on the outside with any power are lining their pockets and don't care because their lives never intersect with those on the inside. The people on the inside, even the caretakers and doctors, are nearly as powerless under the grind of the machine as the people being drugged to the gills.

For they're just being warehoused. Drugged into stupefaction. And while this book doesn't go into the overflow problem and how many sufferers are just shunted into prison, the picture here is clear.

Kesey said it clear and LaValle reiterates: we're all stuck in the machine and can't see a way out of it.

This is good horror, but it's better commentary on us. Definitely a must-read for Kesey fans who want a big upgrade for our modern world. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
I should have known better - I wasn't in the mood for horror. Loss of control and getting stuck in a bad system is a fear and a fact of life. Pepper is committed to a small psych unit due to the laziness of arresting officers. Is the Devil also a patient? ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
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Epigraph
The fear, the horror, that I had of madness before is already greatly softened. And although one continually hears shouts and terrible howls as though of the animals in a menagerie, despite this the people here know each other very well, and help each other when they suffer crises.

—Vincent van Gogh
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They brought the big man in on a winter night when the moon looked as hazy as the heart of an ice cube.
Quotations
What is there to do in a mental hospital? Watch television, sit in your room, wander the hallways, step out for a smoke break, attend group meetings. Every day, that's all you get It's why visiting hours mean so much. Even patients who didn't get along with their families on the outside are pleased to welcome them here.
So much of the job at Northwest was simply about management. The ugly truth was that these patients weren't here to be cured. There were no cures for them. They had illnesses that had to be managed, by them and by those who treated them. They were like ships that would never find a shore. The most you could do was bring them supplies; the most they could do was get used to the rocking, the unpredictability, of the vast, impenetrable ocean below them.
If you haven't caused a scene in a psych unit, it's just because you haven't been inside long enough.
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Pepper is a rambunctious big man, and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He's not mentally ill, but that doesn't seem to matter. On his first night, he's visited by a terrifying creature who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It's no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down. Pepper rallies three other inmates in a plot to fight back: Dorry, an octogenarian schizophrenic; Coffee, an African immigrant with severe OCD; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl. Battling the pill-pushing staff, one another, and their own minds, they try to kill the monster that's stalking them. But can the Devil die?

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Book description
Pepper is a rambunctious big man, and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He's not mentally ill, but that doesn't seem to matter. On his first night, he's visited by a terrifying creature who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It's no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down.
Pepper rallies three other inmates in a plot to fight back: Dorry, an octogenarian schizophrenic; Coffee, an African immigrant with severe OCD; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl. Battling the pill-pushing staff, one another, and their own minds, they try to kill the monster that's stalking them. But can the Devil die?
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