The Blinds

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In ancient Greek mythology there are five rivers in the underworld.

One of these rivers is the Lethe which imparts forgetfulness or oblivion to the soul after death.

In Adam Sternbergh’s novel “The Blinds” (Ecco Books/382 pages), the removal of memories is done to humans still very much alive vis-a-vis a medical procedure which removes all thoughts concerning past crimes.

In an experimental colony in rural Texas, residents who are especially dangerous criminals have been sent to the town of Caesura, in an attempt at rehabilitation through the obliteration of memories.

To complete the process of burying their past lives, the residents are instructed to select new names for their new identities from a list of names composed of celebrities and vice-presidents.

Cut off from the rest of the world and their old identities, the residents have nicknamed this penal colony “The Blinds.”

But the utopian experiment goes awry as residents begin to die. First there was the apparent suicide by self-inflicted gun shot of Errol Colfax. Then Hubert Gable is found shot, with the same nine millimeter gun.

The question as to whether medicine can remove propensities towards violence reaches a dramatic high-point as this motley group of criminals, who inhabit the Blinds, band together to save a young boy from the clutches of a pedophile.

Sternbergh’s plot is original and provocative. One thing can be said with certainty — the reader will not easily forget “The Blinds.”