[dropcap sid=”dropcap-1441115522″]I[/dropcap]magine questioning the assumptions on which your life is based, assumptions about self and long-held ideas about family. And imagine that that self-understanding is also the basis of your professional life, your ability to do your job. That’s the unnerving suspicion that confronts clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. David Edminson in alumnus Edward A. Dreyfus’s third novel, the character study The Midnight Shrink (2015).
Edminson (nee Edminsky) is the main character, “the midnight shrink” of the title, a single, thirty-something transplanted New Yorker from the South Bronx who lives and works in Los Angeles. This therapist works out of two offices: a traditional Sunset Strip office in West Hollywood and a 10-year-old midnight blue Toyota van custom-fitted as a mobile office that allows him to treat the streetpeople of LA’s Skid Row. In the latter “office,” weekdays from midnight until 5 a.m., Edminson “worked for himself doing the kind of work he loved to do with the people he preferred to serve.”
The good doctor traces his affinity for “the night people”—of which he’s one—to his beloved paternal grandfather, an unskilled Polish-Jewish immigrant who operated a newsstand on the corner of 149th Street and Third Avenue in the Bronx. In honor of his Grandpa Solly and in reaction against his conservative, middle-class parents, Edminson has created a life as a crusader for social justice, an advocate for the underdog.
But cracks in his personal narrative and self-image turn to fissures when David speaks with his estranged younger brother, a well-to-do lawyer, who challenges him: “For a shrink, you sure are blind and sometimes just stupid. You want to see things as you decide they are. But maybe you are wrong, bro.” The accusation is not dismissed, and David embarks on a journey to address “unfinished business.”
Of course, most attempts at self-understanding by necessity occur amid the daily events of one’s life. Only Edminson’s professional life is a little more fraught than the average person’s, which the reader realizes in the opening paragraphs of the novel: At 3 a.m. in downtown Los Angeles, two police officers find the body of a female prostitute who has been strangled. It is this discovery that sets the novel in motion. How will this brutal death coincide with David’s life and practice? And how might the perpetrator impact the lives of his friends and loved ones?
[box sid=”box-1409090879″ style=”color: #234;background-color:#f2e8fb;border:none;”]SPECIAL Alumni Discount: To obtain your copy of The Midnight Shrink by Edward A. Dreyfus at a $5 discount, purchase the novel directly from the publisher here. Use code FWZ7QBFS at checkout. (If you choose to purchase the book at Amazon, there is no discount; however, more royalties go to charity.)[/box]
MEET THE AUTHOR: Dr. Edward Dreyfus (’58)
At the age of 78 and 50 years practicing as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Edward Dreyfus (Baruch class of 1958) has turned his attention to writing psychologically based novels. Dreyfus is a licensed psychologist in California, a certified sex therapist, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. All of his books are available on Amazon: www.edwardadreyfus.net, and their proceeds go to charity.
Our Exclusive BCAM Interview
You’ve written many books. What drew you to writing originally?
I seem to have a knack for writing prose that is easily understood by professionals and laymen alike. Writing gives me an opportunity to affect change in people’s lives beyond my therapy office by making psychological concepts practical for everyday life.
Why fiction now?
My writing journey has been an evolution: Fiction is just the next stage—professional articles, nonfiction books, and now fiction, all have a similar purpose. All of my writing represents an exploration of the human condition, especially in regard to how people connect with one another.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your novels?
Each novel has, what I hope will be, a powerful psychological message. I’m especially concerned with the tendency for people to stereotype one another. My experience as a psychotherapist has taught me that each person is unique, rich or poor, and has a story worth telling. I want to make less-known and -lauded individuals visible, valued, and understood. So writing fiction became an extension of these principles.
With my fiction, I hope to reach even more people by embedding the psychological message in an engaging story. And novels reach a new group of readers, potentially a wider audience.