Written by a local (Hamilton) author, The God Helmet is a unique combination of the ‘real-life’ impact that a catastrophic stroke can have on an individual with the science-fiction of mind control. The author’s health care background is evident in the descriptions of Arthur, the middle-aged professor who had a catastrophic stroke and of Gyola, the senior, who ends up moving into the same long-term care home. A family’s life is forever impacted yet they persevere and try to move forward.
Arthur is in the midst of experiments – on himself, which come to a dramatic end after he suffers a stroke in his office. He had been wrapped up in his studies often oblivious to the world around him. His family had limited understanding of his life’s work which ended up packed into a box and almost forgotten. The author describes his inability to move, communicate and interact with others as a peaceful state where seems to be in an almost meditative state.
After Arthur’s daughter moves in with her boyfriend, Gene, he discovers an in her father’s research. He begins to study and learn, with a goal of replicating the experiments. As he becomes closer to understanding the experiments the entire family is reflecting on Arthur’s life, learning more about him as they make changes in their own lives and come to terms with Arthur’s physical reality.
If it were not for book club, I likely would not have known about this novel but am glad that this was our November choice. It is an interesting topic and makes the reader consider an alternate view on the impact of the stroke. Having worked with individuals following catastrophic strokes, it would not have occurred to me to think of someone in a state of peacefulness but thinking of them existing in frustration with their inability to communicate and interact with others. I am very much looking forward to meeting Bettina VonKampen on Tuesday!