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The revelations of Dr. Modesto (The Arbor…

The revelations of Dr. Modesto (The Arbor House library of contemporary… (edition 1984)

by Alan Harrington

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293675,819 (3.5)None
Title:The revelations of Dr. Modesto (The Arbor House library of contemporary Americana)
Authors:Alan Harrington
Info:Arbor House (1984), Edition: First., Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Revelations of Dr. Modesto by Alan Harrington


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Your personality is annoying to other people. Get rid of it. This is what Hal Hingham, the protagonist with a name a little too close with that of his author/creator, a loser at life until discovering the "revelations," is taught by Dr. Modesto--a name simultaneously showy & modest.

I read this book ages ago. I picked up a remaindered copy from some bin, consuming it with a displeasure that made me continue to the end. I wanted to be told to be myself and was instead instructed that that was the last person I should be. Why, then, was I compelled to revisit this title today?

I don't know, but a power like that shouldn't be denied. I discovered that the author wrote 2 other books I'd never heard of before dying at the age of 79. And now, so have you. What we will do with this knowledge remains to be seen.

I rated it a 3 in keeping with the dictates of Centralism. Not too high, not too low. ( )
1 vote Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
While the writing is pedestrian, the bizarre plot and oddball characters (an ornery human fly, a mysterious guru, a lonely pole-vaulting champion, etc.) make this book pretty entertaining. You sense a valiant attempt at a message, but in the end it's simply too goofy and muddled to come through. ( )
1 vote giovannigf | Jul 16, 2014 |
Originally published in 1955, this little black humor novel is a rare gem. Set in Boston, New Bedford and Fall River, Hal Hingham, an insurance salesman for Arcadia Life, hasn't sold a single policy when he writes away to Dr. Modesto for his life-changing book. Soon following the principles of Modesto's Centralism he is popular and sells a record amount of policies in one day, but he's not happy. Centralism has required him to give up too much of himself. He becomes an automaton. Meanwhile he meets Merko, the Human Fly. Merko makes his living walking up and down the sides of skyscrapers. He is a staunch individualist, going to such extremes to maintain his individuality as having no routines, furnishing his house with random stuff that clashes violently, switching activities continually and even shelving his books in the most chaotic order he can devise. Hal thinks to learn to get some of himself back from Merko, but then Merko decides to try to become more like other people to get a girl. In desperation Hal boards a train to Nebraska to search out Dr. Modesto himself. Dr. Modesto's secret is a killer for all time. I can't give it away, but it renders the whole plot in the most horrifying way. The 50s in Boston live and breathe in the book. Compare to Russell Greenan's "It Happened in Boston?" ( )
  kylekatz | Mar 3, 2014 |
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