Books

The Fading of Lloyd

Reviewed By Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite ***** Five Stars

What was it like to live with a mental condition in the early years of the 1900s? The Fading of Lloyd by Kit Crumpton captures a family’s story as they struggle to cope with the mental retardation of one of theirs amidst social changes affecting everyone. In a story with a wonderful historical and social setting, readers meet Lloyd, an “imbecile” who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, institutionalized, and later dies in very tragic circumstances. In this book, the author explores the perils of life in an asylum and makes a powerful indictment of the way psychiatrists and professionals working in mental institutions treated their patients. Follow the family’s shock as they live through the tragedy.

The reader immediately experiences a deep sense of sympathy for the Huttleston family as they get to know the challenges they face. The story revolves around this family, but it makes relevant references to the social and cultural revolutions taking place just after the First World War. The story is filled with many surprises, family drama and secrets, and the reader is interested to understand why Lloyd is the way he is. Readers are introduced to great characters, including Kimberly Weatherspoon, the killer with a rare pathological condition, Private Huttleston, and a host of others. Kit Crumpton explores her characters in unusual and skillful ways, allowing readers to connect with them because they are real and memorable. The Fading of Lloyd is crafted in excellent prose, with great dialogues sprinkled throughout the story. It’s a story that is emotionally driven, skillfully plotted, and accomplished with a master’s touch.

The Fading of Lloyd by Kit Crumpton Book Cover

The Fading of Kimberly

Kimberly, a beautiful narcissist, commits a murder of passion and ends up in an insane asylum. Her father agrees with the doctor’s recommendation for her lobotomy. Riley Natch is a criminal psychopath whose heinous crimes lands him in the same institution. When Kimberly was a child, she had watched one of Riley’s murders. Eddie Fisk, a hospital assistant working in the asylum, knows both patients and is drawn into their circumstances to his own demise. This historical novel is set in the early twentieth century at Elgin State Mental Hospital. The director and hospital doctors struggle in providing care for those they believe can be cured amongst those who are forever dependent upon the hospital’s care.

Review comment - The Fading of Kimberly is a well-written and enthralling tale about a narcissistic female child whose privileged family background does little to protect her from the double standards applied to unconventional or demanding women in the early twentieth century. As I read, I couldn’t help but ponder how so many of Kimberly’s so-called character flaws would have been considered as assets had she been born the male heir Weatherspoon had hoped for. Crumpton’s story also works quite well as a psychological thriller as she chronicles the investigation of the murder of Kimberly’s classmate and the subsequent incarceration of the murderer within the criminally insane section of the Elgin State Mental Hospital. I was particularly caught up in the developing relationship between keeper and captor: Eddie Fisk, whose own proclivity to violence is noted, and Riley Nacht, the astronomer. Crumpton also discusses the use of lobotomy at the time for dealing with difficult or rebellious women, noting in her Author’s Notes Section that women in mental institutions in the early twentieth century “had an eighty percent chance” of being lobotomized. The Fading of Kimberly is most highly recommended.

 - Jack Magnus

Please Send Ketchup

Please Send Ketchup, WWII Letters from a B-29 Pilot 
is a collection of letters written by the author’s father intermixed with descriptions of B-29 Superfortress bombing missions over Japan during the last year of WWII.
Excerpts from Please Send Ketchup:
May 26: Tokyo: Over four hundred ninety B-29s attacked Tokyo. This mission experienced the highest loss in B-29 history, twenty-six. Average bomb load 6.75 tons. Estimated total tonnage dropped is three thousand three hundred sixty tons….

Dearest Jeanne,
…After the mission, I showered and ate and went to sleep. Got up this morning just fifteen minutes before class. I guess I slept or rested almost twenty hours. Boy, I was exhausted. It was the first mission for the whole crew without any experienced people on board so, I was really on my toes.
After class this morning I went to church....

Your Loving Husband and Daddy,
P.S. At eleven o’clock I will kiss you goodnight.
P.P.S. Please send me some canned food, ketchup, mustard, Jello, canned corn on the cob, pears, peaches, anything like that.