Here's a synopsis of the novel:
“Pathological States” (a novel of about 67,000 words, 238 pages)
Daniel Melnick—25805 Fairmount Blvd., Apt 303, Beachwood, OH 44122 USA
Phone (216) 378-9302; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is 1962, the year of hydrogen bomb testing and the Cuban Missile Crisis, of Eichmann’s execution and the Telstar satellite. Dr. Morris Weisberg is a sixty-one year old pathologist, researcher, and the paterfamilias of a contentious family. Medicine is an obsession for him, and he feels truthfulness is essential in order to keep alive the professional values he finds under attack at his hospital as well as his ethical awareness as a secular educated Jew. In the year of the novel, he faces shattering crises in his family, in himself, and at the Montecito V.A. hospital where he is Chief of Laboratory. He discovers that his world is shot through with crippling deceptions and paradoxes which test his very being.
Both Morris and his wife, Sarah, were born near the beginning of the twentieth century in Europe, and each was brought to America at an early age. Now, in 1962, the two of them are attempting to bear their chalice through the denatured suburbia of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. Both are classical music lovers and amateur musicians, and their clashing worlds of music, family, medicine, and suburban survival are evoked in the full regalia of their wonder and struggle.
Partly based on my own family, the Weisbergs have raised two sons in Northridge, and each family member takes up the telling of the story. Gene and Albert are now in their twenties and return this year to the suburban household. They carry with them intense resentments toward their parents and especially toward Morris, whom they see as destructively controlling. As the young men—one of them is straight, the other gay—act out their personal, familial, and sexual instabilities, the family home begins to fill with unexpected revelations of excess and abuse.
At work, Morris unearths a grotesque and disastrous instance of unprofessional conduct and a cover-up reaching to the office of the Hospital Director. The pathologist struggles with his ethical responsibilities and his fears for his career, and he searches for a strategy to confront the crisis threatening him. At home and at work, then, buried truths erupt with catastrophic results, violating the boundaries and balances within Morris and his family. He tries to control the darkness of his own rage, depression, and self-destructiveness. As he plummets, the struggle persists in him to affirm the importance of science and of art in the face of the terrors within him and within his home and work, in Los Angeles and sunny California, and in America itself. By the end of the novel, Morris has become a moving, larger-than-life Dr. Quixote, at once terrifying and terrified, both noble and destructive.
“Pathological States” vividly dramatizes the crises and abuses in Morris Weisberg’s world, as well as the family’s attempts to maintain their harmed but richly complex identities. This eloquent and powerful novel alternately zooms in close to Morris’ consuming struggle and pans far out to see what signs of reconciliation and survival endure in his time and place.