The Secret Life of Captain X

September 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

P1000345Title:The Secret Life of Captain X

Author: Mrs X Nomore

Genre: Memoir

Length: 232 pages

If the title isn’t ominous enough, what comes after it tells you all you need to know: “My Life with a Psychopath Pilot.”

I was on the fence about this book.  It sounded so intriguing, but psychopaths (as the author mentions) are often described in ways that don’t address the mundane in them – it’s always some fantastical Hollywood version, involving axes and whatnot, rather than the every day drama a psychopath will stir up.

Part One is well written (well, the whole book is well written) although a tad whiny.  It’s hard to read the first half of the book and not think, “Ok, the guy is a manipulative turd, but a person doesn’t have to dwell on everything that sucks for so long.  People, especially in relationships, have shitty years… but to be victimized for twenty-two years, there has to be more than this one sided ‘I was always lonely’ business.”  She sounds miserable from the start.  But hang in with Mrs X Nomore and her story – she’s letting you know what makes you a target.  She’s identifying the reasons why she was blinded by the love bombing and the falsehoods… she WAS lonely and unhappy, she was seeking love, she did not have many solid relationships with people nearby.  As someone already feeling isolated, she was in the perfect position to be duped.

Despite my annoyances at all the red flags (that though I may not have identified as psychopath behavior would have turned me off real quick, now, not necessarily a year or two ago), the story propelled me rather rapidly into the graphic details of Mrs X’s discoveries during the divorce.  The man really was a sick freak, trolling the internet for prostitutes, girlfriends, and more victims all during their marriage.  I could have done without some of the descriptions and skimmed over a lot of Captain X’s sex site postings that are quoted in the book.

This book is not for the feint of heart.  Well done, Mrs X Nomore, for getting out of there and finding your therapy in writing.  I think it’s obvious that writing the book was healing for you and your purpose of raising awareness about psychopathy is succeeding.

This book makes you realize how easy it is to want to judge and say decisively what you would or wouldn’t do in a similar situation – but no matter how hard I try to put myself in the same situation in my mind’s eye, there’s really no telling.  Although I may have crossed paths with psychopaths and sociopaths over the years, I was never married to one, and a marriage bond makes all the difference.  How do you try to be “one” with someone who has no conscience, no empathy, no remorse?  You don’t.  As soon as you find out, you run for the hills.

Despite her age, Mrs X Nomore has a young writing voice.  She seems pretty hip for someone with arthritis, replaced hips, and a grown daughter.  I giggled when she called her new apartment her new “digs.”  It was hard to reconcile the age she kept telling me she was with her writing and her story.  Mostly because of social constraints, I think.  It’s easier to envision a nineteen year old being duped in such a fashion – much harder to know she married him at thirty-nine and she was getting divorced during her “golden years.”  It’s just another point she has to prove to the public: It doesn’t take a young girl to get suckered by a man like this – just a woman looking for a relationship.

I both love and hate the way this book is structured, mostly because it presents some very specific implications:

Psychopaths exist.

This level of deception happens….

and the deceiver is not who you’d expect.

Psychopathy (/saɪˈkɒpəθi/) (or sociopathy /ˈsoʊsiəˌpæθi/) is traditionally defined as a personality disorder characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior. It may also be defined as a continuous aspect of personality, representing scores on different personality dimensions found throughout the population in varying combinations. The definition of psychopathy has varied significantly throughout the history of the concept; different definitions continue to be used that are only partly overlapping and sometimes appear contradictory. – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

In the epilogue, Mrs X Nomore concludes:

I didn’t move to Costa Rica to escape psychopaths.  They are everywhere, easily blending into a crowd.  We shouldn’t live in fear, but we must be aware that up to four percent of our population is made up of these social predators, and we should avoid them at all costs.

She also lists a plethora of additional resources for continuing your education on the topic, as well as finding healing if you have been a victim.

 

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Water for Elephants: 24 Hour Fairy Tale

April 20, 2012 at 4:55 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

Title: Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: I read from the Algonquin Books, a division of Workman Publishing, movie cover edition

Length: 445 pgs.

When I first see a book, I mentally catalogue it.  I see On What Grounds, Cleo Coyle, mystery by author, C’s.  I see On Art and Life, John Ruskin, philosophy by philosopher, R’s.  Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen, general fiction by author, G’s.  I see Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, general fiction by author, R’s.  I see Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire, Amanda Foreman, History, British biographies by subject G’s.

At second glance, it becomes a more personal catalogue: bubble bath, afternoon, 24 hour, week, over time.

A bubble bath read is a Cleo Coyle Coffeehouse mystery series.  Roughly 200 pages, usually purchased in paperback format, I can read it in an hour to an hour and a half.  John Ruskin’s On Art and Life is part of my Penguin Great Ideas books collection, they are small, but involve a little more brain power than a fun, cozy mystery, I will spend an afternoon on one of these books.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen? I saw ladies pick this up for their book clubs, I weighed it in my hands, and thought: I’ll read that… looks like a romantic 24 hour fairy tale.  You see the pattern.

Yet I waited.  I impulsively buy many things when it comes to books… bubble bath reads because I read them often; Great Ideas books because I collect them; week longs because work like Carlos Ruiz Zafon is heaven to me; history and science books because I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge.  But 24 hour reads get brushed under the rug fairly often.  They are often times catalogued as fluff I don’t have time for.

The movie came and went, the movie edition came by the hundreds.  Still, I passed it up.

Finally, my best friend bought a copy during a Valentine’s Event hosted at the Half Price Books in Humble (Buy your favorite love story, get a chance to win a dinner for two at Italiano’s).  Now, for a book reviewer, blogger, and aspiring novel writer, you’d think I had a best friend who reads with me.  You probably envision a girl that goes and gets coffee and pours over reading material only to gab about it later with her bestie.  Well, I have very close friends that I do that with, but Danielle isn’t one of them.  My best friend absorbs books on her own, stews over them in her mind, and then cherishes them and tries to not breathe a word of them with another soul lest she ruin the magic of the experience.  Point? She wont read with me.  But I found out what book she bought at that event, and I picked up a copy of my own on clearance.

24 hours of entertainment for 25 cents – heck yeah!

Now, granted, I wasn’t reading Water for Elephants for 24 hours straight.  Just between baby, husband, event planning, house cleaning, playdates, meals, emails, pampering, and dog walking, it took me 24 hours to finish it.  If however, you are going on a vacation and have a chance to read it all in one sitting… I HIGHLY recommend doing so.

The New York Times Book Review calls Water for Elephants “An enchanting escapist fairy tale” and despite the sociopathic husband of the love interest who gets off on beating animals and people and lording over a small community of travelling circus hooligans, it really is a bit of a fairy tale, and its definitely an escape from your own reality.

Water for Elephants reads a bit like a Kate Morton novel, but at a quicker pace, with lots of layers, old age, storytelling, and flashbacks.  Unlike Kate Morton, this first person narrative is written from the perspective of the man in the saga – rather than aged ladies.  Where Kate Morton’s fabulous books strike me as having a very female target audience, I feel that marketed a bit differently, Sara Gruen has the potential to engross a population of male readers who have missed out under the impression that this fairy tale is a romance novel.

Gruen has done extensive research into depression era, of circuses, and of elephants, and it shows.  Although Water for Elephants is about two people finding their fairy tale life in the midst of harsh circumstances, its ultimately the greatest coming of age story I’ve read in a long time.  You’ve got a virginal college boy experiencing the death of his parents and loss of all his future plans, running away to join the circus, telling you the story of his life, all his trials and tribulations, from a nursing home at age ninety – or ninety three.  From becoming room mates with a dwarf, losing his virginity, learning the fine art of train hopping, planning a murder, witnessing a murder, and falling in love, and becoming an unsung hero, Gruen leads you effortlessly through the life of an ex-circus vet, and its wonderful.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but when I do, I’ll tell you all what I think.

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