17 Oct 2014

“Things aren’t always as they seem…” – a fantastic review of my new book “Conditions”

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I had the perfect start to my day when I found this ever so thoughtful and very kind review of “Conditions”. The endorsement comes from a talented writer and a woman with a background on social and behavioural sciences. Not that this should matter, since any praise and feedback is naturally welcome but read for yourself. 
Thank you Anna Burke and everyone for  your support and sharing the journey with me.
Here is the review:

Things aren’t always as they seem…We humans seem to love to name things, sort and tuck them neatly into categories. I get it. It’s a way for a busy, crowded brain to sift through and assimilate massive amounts of information in a reasonable amount of time. Can you imagine a world where every situation or event is taken on the face of it as a completely new and original one? It’s a kind of shorthand we use, an important and very basic capacity that lays the foundation for language and history and science and just getting through the day.

When it comes to people, we like to do the same thing. Despite that admonition not to judge a book by its cover, we often do just that. Peg people based on a superficial or incomplete understanding of who they are. For humans, labels, at best, convey something narrow and delimited about a particular aspect of an individual’s nature or status. That ‘shorthand’ strategy may not serve us quite so well.

All of this is a bit of a windup in order to place Christoph Fischer’s latest book, Conditions, in context. It’s an unassuming book that takes a thoughtful and intimate look at some very weighty subjects. One of those ‘slice of life’ stories, it captures interactions among a group of family and friends brought together by a key life event. In this case the death of the mother to Charles and Tony. The two brothers, struggling toward middle age, are central figures in the book. They couldn’t be more different, on the face of it. Tony is the successful responsible older brother, with a job, a mortgage, a wife and children. Charles, on the other hand, is a single man with a serious and persistent mental illness who, at times, is unable to even care for himself. Fischer’s book asks us to beware, however, of pigeon-holing these two brothers and tagging one as ‘normal’ and successful and the other as, well, less.

If labels are less than ideal when it comes to dealing with people, they’re even trickier when using them as a way to make sense out of the life and experience of persons with mental health conditions. Fischer doesn’t go there in his book. He sets aside the matter of naming Charles’ disorder, leaves it open-ended. I think that makes the man’s condition a far more interesting—less a mental patient and more a human being facing his own limitations and trying to understand those of others. Like his brother. One of the big hurdles someone with a severe mental illness faces is the social distance created by difference. By avoiding the use of labels, Fischer closes the social distance between the two brothers, especially when some of Tony’s life struggles are revealed. On some level he and his brother are the same—two men looking for ways to deal with the problems of living.

The book provides glimpses into the challenges placed upon a person with a mental illness—challenges that impinge on friends and family, too. The helpless feeling those around Charles experience, at times, is all too familiar to anyone with a friend or family member like Charles. The brief descriptions of Charles’ encounters with the mental health system speak for themselves. After thirty years in the social and behavioral sciences, it’s a disappointment to me that we know so little, and fail to use what we do know, to support individuals with mental illness. Charles, for all the challenges of his condition, is a lucky man. In most any big city, or big city jail, it’s not hard to find with those like Charles who are less fortunate.

Bravo to Christoph Fischer for writing this gently provocative book. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy family sagas and stories about humans trying to do their best to figure it all out.

Find the book

On Facebook: http://ow.ly/C0ZqX

On Amazon: http://smarturl.it/CONDITIONSCFF

On Goodreads: http://ow.ly/C0Ziw

Connect with Christoph 922159_10151345337037132_1303709604_o

Website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/

Blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

Amazon: http://ow.ly/BtveY

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christophffisch/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/0/106213860775307052243

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241333846

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

Conditions Book_marketing2-lrg

When Charles and Tony’s mother dies the estranged brothers must struggle to pick up the pieces, particularly so given that one of them is mentally challenged and the other bitter about his place within the family. The conflict is drawn out over materialistic issues, but there are other underlying problems which go to the heart of what it means to be part of a family which, in one way or another. has cast one aside. Prejudice, misconceptions and the human condition in all forms feature in this contemporary drama revolving around a group of people who attend the subsequent funeral at the British South Coast. Meet flamboyant gardener Charles, loner Simon, selfless psychic Elaine, narcissistic body-builder Edgar, Martha and her version of unconditional love and many others as they try to deal with the event and its aftermath.

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Christoph Fischer was born in Germany in 1970 as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. ‘The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ is his first published work. He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.
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