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Paul Schreber is a man who wants to go home – but can’t. He is a man crippled by an illness he doesn’t understand – and sometimes doesn’t even know he has. He's no condition to face the worst - but the worst keeps on happening to him. His family is disintegrating, past traumas are coming back to haunt him - and so are those troubling, seemingly laid-to-rest fears of persecution...
Paul Schreber is paranoid - and they really are out to get him.
Playthings, Alex Pheby's astonishing second novel, delves deep into a disturbed mind - and in doing so, also unearths the roots of the great ills in the twentieth century, the psychological structure of fascism, the cancer of anti-Semitism, and the abuse of institutional power.
Based on the true story of a man who became a case study for Freud and a foundation stone in the psychological make-up of the twentieth century, Playthings is an intense and poetic exploration about what it means to be human. It will shake you to the bone.
"If Playthings is a neuronovel then it's arguably the best neuronovel ever written, particularly in its depiction of memory and the instability of personality. But it transcends any such category and is simply a superb novel tout court, Kafkaesque in its nightmarish fluency and a powerful exposition of Kant's celebrated view that 'the madman is a waking dreamer.'" --Literary Review
"Throughout this compelling novel the space between reader and Schreber becomes a sombre reminder of how alone we all are." --The Guardian
"Playthings gets into the head, with tender attentiveness, of a man having a psychotic breakdown and takes up the story where the Schreber left off." --The Lancet
"An incredible work of fiction, all the more fascinating for being based on an actual case. The writing is taut, intense, the everyday world a phantom which Schreber tries so desperately to attain. His disturbance of mind is not so much explained as experienced. This story is powerful and moving; I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the humanity behind mental illness." --Never Imitate
"Writing of the highest order." --Neil Griffiths
"Creating something out of this nothing is not an easy task but with this most unusual novel, the author has succeeded in doing just that." --Irish Times
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