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Eyes Wide Open

Disturbing tale with Manson-like details

June 6, 2012
By REGINA M. ANGELI - Books Writer , The Daily News

At first glance, "Eyes Wide Open," the latest novel by Andrew Gross, is a

disturbing tale which seems to have been suggested by the infamous crimes of Charles Manson. (Harper, 412 pages)

The story centers on the apparent suicide of Evan Erlich, a mentally ill young man with very dysfunctional parents. Evan's father, Charlie, had been a promising musician in the wild days of the late sixties before drugs and mental illness sidelined his career.

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Charlie married Gabriella, whose psychiatric troubles matched his own. The one bright spot in their tragic lives had been their son, Evan, who had thrown himself off a cliff.

Through a twist of fate and genetics, Charlie's half-brother, Jay Erlich, was spared the predisposition to mental illness and became a successful surgeon and happily married husband and father.

But his personal achievements carried with them a measure of guilt for having attained success while his half-brother barely survived on government disability payments. Compelled by a sense of survivor's guilt, Jay Erlich is driven to investigate the death of his nephew, Evan. What he uncovers is a link between his brother and the the infamous Russell Houvnanian, a serial killer reminiscent of Charles Manson.

Gross has written a story which captures the terror of those horrible days of the Manson family.

In a poignant revelation, the author, Andrew Gross, writes of the suicide of his nephew who had suffered bi-polar mental illness. My condolences to Mr. Gross and his family.



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