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The Devil in Silver

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  1,661 ratings  ·  333 reviews
The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • Publishers Weekly

New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.

Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental instit
Hardcover, 412 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Spiegel & Grau (first published April 3rd 2012)
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Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
3.5 Stars.

Pepper has entered the mental institute. No real reason why. He is not insane. Well not much. He was taking up for his sometime girlfriend against her ex-husband and assaulted 3 plainclothes cops. He is supposed to be confined for 72 hours. Yeah right.
These characters are so fully described that I felt like I was right there with them. Shut up. I know it's the nut house. Dorry! I have a thing for old broads and this one was spectacular!

I kinda think she might be me in a few years. Bac
Sep 04, 2013 Katy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a good story
Recommended to Katy by: Amazon Vine
Book Info: Genre: Literary Fiction (per publisher); Dark Fiction (per me)
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Anyone who likes a great story

My Thoughts: This was one of those books I picked up because there wasn’t anything else that really appealed to me, and it just looked strange enough that I would enjoy it. Pepper seems like the kind of character I would enjoy, and I also tend to like stories sent in mental institutions. But imagine my delight when I found descriptions like this one:

Many authors love to set their novels in mental hospitals - think of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Greenberg's I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, Lehane's Shutter Island, McGrath's Asylum, and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The reason, of course, is that the setting allows the author to explore how life inside the cloistered walls of an institution is often indistinguishable from "real" life outside. And so it is with The Devil in Silver.

Pepper (so-called becaus
Sometimes I will continue reading a book even when I know its hopeless purely out of a sense of loyalty to the author. This was certainly the case here. I appreciated all of Mr. LaValle's efforts, and I actually quite like the way he writes, but the plot was just all over the place, and the premise of the story, while initially really captivating, takes several strange turns and completely loses itself, eventually becoming unrecognizable. In fact, the novel I finished was almost a completely dif ...more
Glenn Williams
They said this was "literary horror." They was right.
"Literary horror" is a category I find unnecessary and a bit snotty. What is that supposed to mean? Is this somehow more "worthy" than genre fiction, something more intellectually respectable than a mere horror novel?

The novel itself is not so pretentious. It is an enjoyable, suspenseful, and occasionally touching novel about mental illness and captivity. Its metaphor is accessible and not overwrought. The setting is a hospital for the mentally ill that focuses less on treatment and more on sed
Christopher Buehlman
A super-sized Theseus takes on external and internal monsters within the vividly rendered walls of a mental institution in Queens. Always surprising, full of three-D characters, a little bit scary (for unexpected reasons) but even more poignant. Most importantly, Victor LaValle's prose is just plain fun.
I received this book as an advanced reading copy and as such it had many errors, typos, fairly sizable glitch in describing the main character and a bit of continuity with timing, all of which I presume is going to be taken care of for the actual print edition.
I haven't heard a thing about the author or the book prior to reading it and I was very impressed with it. There were a few minor things that were off, particularly and most noticeably racist slip ups and semi slurs, to the point where th
Pepper is a fortysomething blue collar wise guy from Queens, New York, a big man whose height and girth are exceeded only by his unfiltered mouth, naïveté, and unique ability to make every bad situation much worse. His reverse Midas touch lands him in the psychiatric unit at New Hyde Hospital, after his chivalrous attempt to protect a neighbor causes him to engage in a brawl with three men, who unbeknownst to him are undercover NYC police officers. The cops drop him off at New Hyde, where he is ...more
Irvin Sha
I started reading this book because I've been slogging through Acemoglu's book "Why Nations Fail" and needed some sort of fiction to reignite my page-turning interest. On that front, this book delivers. That said, I don't think it delivered a whole lot else.

Note - Some spoilers follow.

In brief, this book is a chronicle of a man's time in a mental institution, in which a Devil also happens to lurk, hunting the inmates. It can also be read as a not-so-thinly veiled critique of our nation's mental
Gregor Xane
Victor LaValle has a real gift for describing authentic "stage business," character gestures, ticks, and body language. These aspects of his writing seem to be drawn directly, and relayed expertly, from observation. This book is frightening and sad and very funny, too. The humor works so well because it's organic to the story, the characters, the situations. I had a few minor quibbles with this book (but they are things that are like personal pet peeves more than anything), but not enough to det ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Lexxie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: psychological horror fans
*I got a free ARC of this book through net-galley in exchange of an honest review*

This and other reviews can be found on my blog : (un)Conventional Bookviews

*Trigger warnings : suicide, abuse by people in a situation of power, murder*

New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.

What an accurate introduction to this psychological horror story.
The Devil in Silver had a lot of interesting things to say about the nature of humanity and modern society, things that ought to be dicussed more frequently because they are important. Unfortunately I think it was trying to say too much and all its messages sort of tripped over each other.

To name a few of the themes:

-How the social systems people are a part of (in this case underfunded mental hospitals) alter their behavior and moral decisions.
-The chronic underfunding of social safety net insti
Mostly while I read this, I just kept asking, "Why?"
Why does the narrator break out and speak to the reader directly every so often?
Why doesn't anyone, including Pepper, care that there's this guy in a mental facility for no apparent reason?
Why am I listening to this?
Why did it take so long to get to the title of the book?
(view spoiler)
Irene B.
I found this book on the library's on-order list and thought it looked interesting. Halfway through and don't feel like picking it up tonight. I had just read Syndrome E, an excellent psychological thriller, but this novel pales in comparison. The characters remain mostly undeveloped and caricatures of people with mental disabilities. I was expecting something more--a novel about Queens and people trapped in an asylum--it should move. Even the so-called "devil" is a vague thing. Also the author ...more
Patrice Hoffman
*Won through a giveaway*

This is the first novel I have read by Victor Lavalle. Literary horror at its finest. A man named Pepper finds his self to be an inmate at New Hyde's Hospital psychiatric ward. After being arrested for a crime, underpaid cops decide he's not worth writing a report on and drop him off for psychiatric observation for 72 hours. If only life were that simple in an insane asylum for a man who isn't crazy, he comes in contact with the Devil.

The whole book takes place in an ins
Any book about the iniquities of the mental-health system in the US, and how this is a microcosm of the larger society, has to contend with the legacy of Ken Kesey. One of LaValle's characters not only references One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, but offers a half-baked critique of the book as not being about 'real' people. Well, would you believe that one of the inmates in LaValle's New Hyde is actually the Devil?

Neither did I. This is the weakest aspect of this novel, which could have happily d
This book is probably more of a 3.5, but it flirted with being a great book for most of the way. This makes the ending seem more disappointing than it really is, I suppose. Anyway, the story takes a sober-eyed approach at life inside a psychiatric ward of a large hospital. LaValle does a fine job of exposing the culture of mental institution life in the 21st century. The loss of autonomy and the absence of any prospects in the outside world make most patients accept their fate with little resist ...more
Angi Dee

Victor LaValle's new novel, "The Devil in Silver" is the perfect choice for a creepy reading the week of Halloween. While the book was marketed as a new addition to the horror genre, this is no Stephen King novel. Readers who expect it to be similar or a more typical horror story will be highly disappointed, however, if you are willing to try something new, this book is unexpectedly sweet and thrilling.

The premise of LaValle's story revolves around a tough
Maybe it was the fault of my library for listing this book as science fiction, but I was definitely expecting something else. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Because the devil is nothing more a man, albeit a crazy one, one has to ask what the purpose of this book was to begin with. Clearly, our protagonist, Pepper, has some s*** that he needs to get in order in his own life, and that his stay in the psychiatric ward is not altogether undeserving. But there were so many tangents in this book, so many sub
L. Michael
I finished Victor LaValle's "The Devil in Silver" in 24 hrs. Literally. On the heels of Diaz's "This Is How You Lose Her," I wasn't prepared to get off my literary high. "Devil" is closer to "The Ecstatic" than the uber-ambitious and brilliant "Big Machine," but no less worthwhile in its observations of humanity, themes of fear, deeper revelations of our Banana Republic (yes, we're here already), and metaphorical allusions to our social group think rituals. It's got a slow middle (but, how slow ...more
Eric Kibler
This book has been marketed as literary horror. It reads as neither self-consciously literary nor as horror. It's more of a screwball social novel.

It's about how life is what you make it, no matter where you are. It's about the breakdown of institutions. It's about mass delusions.

The book opens with our protagonist, a man called Pepper, as he is being inappropriately admitted to a psych ward by three cops. His 72 hour stay ends up stretching to months, as he gets to know the other inmates as p
Pepper is brought to the New Hyde mental institution, because he got into a fight with the police. He believes that the police have dropped him there, rather than do all the paperwork it would take to arrest him. He's sure that he'll be out after the weekend, but many weeks later he finds himself just another drugged out patient in the ward. They are all frightened of the wards' oldest resident, who sometimes slips into their rooms in the middle of the night, but why?

Pepper chooses to stay behi
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review by John is posted at Layers of Thought.

In a Kafkaesque turn of event someone is submitted to a psychiatric unit who shouldn’t be. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do – in the dead of night patients are being attacked by some demonic creature which the staff might possibly be protecting.

About: Pepper is a big man who is a bit impetuous and tends to charge at life without thinking things through. Sometimes that can get him in trouble, and on one fateful night it
Facing your Monsters

The author, Victor LaValle, doesn’t flinch from unpleasant topics. “The Devil in Silver” is set in a government run mental health facility where the unruly Pepper is taken by overworked cops after he gets into fisticuffs outside the school where his would be beloved works as a teacher. The man he confronts is also a teacher and her abusive husband. Rather than take Pepper to the precinct where they’d have to work overtime booking him with no pay due to cut backs the cops dump

Original Post on Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust at THE DEVIL IN SILVER: One Man's Incarceration and Society's Failure to Put Things Right

Victor Lavalle
Spiegel & Grau/Random House
Hardcover 432 pages
E-book Kindle 5K, Random House Digital

There's magic, and then there is a perception of the supernatural when things don't fit how we believe they should be. Then there is true mental illness requiring hospitalization and something that could be handled otherwise if someone had the
Pepper has just been arrested for assalting several police officers. Instead of being booked in the jail, Pepper is admitted to New Hyde Hospital, mental hospital. The police officers say that Pepper needs to be evaluated for several days. That and the jail has no more room. Pepper does not like the idea of staying in a hospital but what choice does he have. Pepper soon meets a wide variety of people at the hospital.

The first night, Pepper's roommate is waking Pepper up demanding a quarter to m
"He hoped to reflect the world's own glory with love" and with that the tone of the book changed for me.

The Devil in Silver was a 'freebie', otherwise, to be quite honest, I may never have read this author and it would have been quite the shame. The synopsis on the back of the book promises chills and thrills, and they happen...just slowly. Yes, if you are looking for a fast paced story that will get you cheap thrills, then walk on by, but if you are looking for a story the builds and becomes m
Vic LaValle has been my favorite contemporary writer for quite some time, and when you love someone a lot, it is sometimes hard to say what needs to be said.

Devil in Silver DIS is more like the final installment of a trilogy concerning morbid obesity, mental health & the medicalization and institutionalization of mental health. LaValle has been very open and honest about his personal health battles. What was artistic and beautiful and nuanced and thought provoking in The Big Machine is very
Pepper, a guy who is a bit of a trouble maker but harmless is put into a psychiatric hospital even though he is not mentally ill. That’s bad enough, but there is a monster that roams the halls at night and kills inmates. Sounds like a cross between ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and a Stephen King novel. That was enough to convince me to read it. I expected a creepy story; I did not expect a book about large themes that engaged the heart. But that is what this novel is.

Pepper is taken to the
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Victor LaValle is the author of the short-story collection Slapboxing with Jesus and the novel The Ecstatic, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.
More about Victor LaValle...
Big Machine The Ecstatic Slapboxing with Jesus Lucretia and the Kroons Monster

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“That’s the funny thing,” she said. “Men always want to die for something. For someone. I can see the appeal. You do it once and it’s done. No more worrying, not knowing, about tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I know you all think it sounds brave, but I’ll tell you something even braver. To struggle and fight for the ones you love today. And then do it all over again the next day. Every day. For your whole life. It’s not as romantic, I admit. But it takes a lot of courage to live for someone, too.” 4 likes
“His name is Robert Paulson.” 1 likes
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