Saturday, July 23, 2011

CFS Novel

I recently read Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Novel by Caroline T. Anderson and have very mixed feelings about it. The book was self published and, as a writer, I can see why that was necessary. Of course the target audience is small, but the book also needs some good editing.
It starts slowly and, for some unknown reason, by the end of the first page we're in the point of view of horses. There's way too much information given in dialogue and long quotations from research done by the main character (who is not a horse.) Since a lot of people don't know much about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome it was necessary to convey some of that information, but only the basics were necessary for the plot and the rest could have been listed at the end of the book.
The only reason I kept reading was my personal interest in the disease, but I'm glad I did. About a third of the way through, the book picks up and the rest is an exciting adventure that kept me turning the pages.
This novel is a good way of letting the general public know about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and, while fictionalized, many people think the sort of machinations it portrays that have kept the disease from being recognized and treated are real.
In this work of fiction anti-viral drugs can cure the disease and I can tell from personal experience that they don't work for everyone. *I was on one for months and all it did was cause permanent neurological damage. (If anti-viral meds could kill retroviruses they would probably cure AIDS, too.) But that kind of medication may have helped the author, who writes under a pseudonym.
However this novel is a good way to make people aware of problems most know nothing about and, once the reader gets past the informative first chapters it's an enjoyable read.
*For information about how I recovered from that disease please read my earlier posts on that topic here:


  1. I read this book too. I went back and checked because I don't remember anything from the point of view of the horses. Think about that... that would mean we are in the minds of the horses. That doesn't happen. The character tells us ABOUT the horses. As a writer, you should be clear about the difference when you write here. One other thing, the author doesn't say that antivirals cure retroviruses. The author says antivirals help if you have a VIRUS. HIV/AIDs is a retrovirus. An antiviral couldn't help it. You need an antiretrovirus to work on a retrovirus. I felt compelled to point all this out because it was imprecise. It needed editing. :)

  2. Point of view isn't only the thoughts of a character. In the beginning of the book there are several pages about things that only the horse and no human character could be aware of. I'm sorry that I can't quote examples, but I loaned my copy to a friend with CFS. Yes, recent studies show CFS is caused by a retrovirus and anti-viral medications can't heal those, But the book talks about people being healed by anti-viral medications. It takes time, sometimes years, to write a book so perhaps the author wasn't aware of the retrovirus when writing it. Also, I know some people who were diagnosed with CFS but actually had other illnesses that were caused by viruses and cured by that kind of medication.

  3. Sorry but I went back and looked through the whole first chapter and couldn't find anything the horse knew about that the human wasn't telling us about. I don't know why this bugged me enough to have done that. :) I guess I get anal sometimes. It's probably because I liked the horse parts the best and paid a lot of attention to that. When you get the book back you can look too and let me know if I really did miss it.