Locus Focus is a meme hosted every Saturday by Enbrethiliel at Shredded Cheddar. "We all know of books that make their settings come alive, and this meme is a chance to write about them and share them with others." Visit her blog and link up!
This week the Theme of Locus Focus is Scary Settings, so I want to tell you about the scariest setting of all:
The Human Mind!
There are lots of books that have the human mind as a very scary setting, but I want to tell you about the first book I read that made me see the human mind as a scary place to be:
Out of Mind by the Dutch author J. Bernlef
(note on the title: The dutch title is 'Hersenschimmen', which translates directly as 'Brain Specters', but a less direct translation would be 'Figments of the Imagination'
This story is about an elderly man afflicted by Alzheimer's disease. The book is written from the viewpoint of this man so as a reader you slowly get lost in his deteriorating mind. What makes the story even more claustrophobic is that the lead character is a Dutchman who moved to America. While his memory is failing him he begins to lose his knowledge of the English language, falling back on Dutch, which isolates him even further from the world around him. By the end of the book his (and therefor also the reader's) world has become so small and different he doesn't even recognise himself anymore when he looks in the mirror. The first time I read this book I really felt trapped at the end of the book and was overcome with relief when I closed it and could open myself to the normal world again. Not a happily ever after story I can tell you, but beautiful and touching in its sadness.
The book was made into movie as well, but it isn't as strong and scary as reading the book in my opinion.