Monday, June 30, 2014

The Strange Bedfellows of Montague Ames

By Norton Parker

Montague Ames has only been married for a year, yet his wife Sheila is planning on leaving him. She is disappointed in him, he seems to have lost his passion, energy and enthusiasm.
Monty is struggling at work too. He is often lost in a daydream and at other times, briefly, he is filled with energy and ideas, but it quickly passes. After a strange outburst at work, his boss sends him home. He's not fired, but now his job is in jeopardy along with his marriage.
Looking for help, Monty falls into the clutches of a Freudian psychiatrist, Dr. Smythe. After just one session with the doctor, Monty has a personality crisis and he "births" his superego and his id. Now instead of one Monty, there are three, much to the joy of Dr. Smythe, who sees it as a great opportunity for study and experimentation. Smythe, it transpires, cares little about Monty's mental health and more about research, even to the detriment of Monty's well-being.
So now there are three versions of Montague Ames. His superego, who goes by the name of Walter, is smart, talented, dynamic and charming. Sheila, not knowing who Walter really is, falls hard for him, much to Monty's chagrin. And there is Ollie, Monty's id, a rough, brutish fellow who has a taste for raw meat and a certain animal attraction.
Walter, the superego, takes the world by storm, charms Monty's boss, Sheila, and everyone he meets, including the president of the United States. Thanks to him, the whole gang, including Smythe, end up living on an estate where the id, Ollie, plays havoc with neighbor's tame herd of deer. Walter and Ollie are also wooing Sheila as Monty sinks deeper into booze and depression and Dr. Smythe merely stands and observes, more interested in the research than in helping Monty. Monty hatches a scheme to save his wife and himself from his alter-egos, only to be threatened with confinement to a mental hospital. After all, who would really believe that Walter and Ollie are Monty's alter-egos made flesh?

This is a silly story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an old book, copyright 1953, but it is a fun look back at a time when smoking was not vilified and, apparently, everyone was a raging alcoholic. Kind of like the TV show Mad Men, these folks constantly have a smoke in one hand and a drink in the other.
This story is a madcap romp, goofy and funny, and a great escape from these modern times.

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