IN 1960, 12-year-old Howard Dully had his prefrontal lobes jumbled as one of the youngest patients ever to receive a transorbital lobotomy. "My Lobotomy" is his story, and it's a Grimmsian saga, complete with evil stepmother, unloving father and mad physician, all conspiring to unwit the unwitting victim.
As crafted by co-author Charles Fleming, Dully's tale is Redemption 101: After the early death of Dully's mother, his father marries a woman named Lou, with whom the boy is perpetually on the outs. There are repeated beatings and tongue-lashings; he's kicked out several times before, at Lou's instigation, he is lobotomized by Dr. Walter Freeman, who pioneered the procedure.
What follows is a temperamental adolescence filled with stints in both juvie and mental hospitals -- and an even more chaotic adulthood, marked by halfway houses and fractured relationships, drug and alcohol abuse and petty crime. It's only after Dully meets the woman he will marry, Barbara, and sobers up that he tries to make sense of it.
Attempting to approximate Dully's voice, Fleming shoots for something between Raymond Carver and Ernest Hemingway. Here's Howard on his daily fare: "They baked their own bread at Agnews, and it was good bread." Or on an extramarital relationship: "[S]ome things happened. Nice things. And those nice things continued to happen."