|Ballantine Books, October 1973. Cover by Philip Kirkland|
As for Dying Inside, I'm not sure I'd call it a Science Fiction novel. It's got a cover that's cool, but has nothing to do with the novel it masks. To my mind it's more of a psychological study of an unpleasant man who believes he's losing his power to read minds. It would be right at home in the Lit section, but that's not how publishers like to work. Anyway, that's the plot. But it's much deeper than that simple summary. It's the study of a man bearing his soul, warts and all, to an unknown observer (the reader? an old love? God?) and exposing his fears and insecurities not just of losing his power to probe minds, but of love, family, career and life. David Selig makes a meager living ghosting term-papers for distracted undergrads. He's brilliant enough to have made a hell of a life for himself. Instead, he lives in a cheap apartment in a bad part of town hammering out essays for students at $5 bucks a page. He ambles through life mourning the past, the loss of his girlfriend, the animosity of his sister, and the rootlessness of life. A rootlessness he blames on the diminishing strength of his ESP. Clearly there are a number of ways to interpret the novel, which made reading it such an exhilarating experience. It's a snapshot of America in the 60's and 70's, it's a study of psychology, and a portrait of the lost. Give it to an earnest undergrad in American Lit today, and let them run with it.
Anyway...I really liked it as you can tell.