Monday, January 24, 2011

Go Ahead: Make My Day

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: a Novel is a visceral revenge story so cinematic it feels more like a movie, as over-the-top and satisfying as Straw Dogs or Death Wish. Author Caroline T. Anderson has cast rapacious insurance company executives as the bad guys.  Out to deny ME/CFS patients their benefits, they're as evil as Nazi monster Christian Szell in the classic what-goes-around-comes-around novel, Marathon Man

Set on a horse farm in rural Ohio, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome hones in on fearless reporter and leggy babe Alistair McKenney, a single mother of two loyal teenagers. As the book progresses, she morphs into a female Dirty Harry; one of the men in her busy life is described as a dead ringer for Clint Eastwood. When a doctor friend asks McKenney to look into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, she uncovers far more than she or the doctor bargained for.

Cast as a minor villain in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is the Centers for Disease Control.  Although the agency’s Dr. William Reeves isn’t mentioned by name, it appears that’s who novelist Anderson may be writing about.

There are weaknesses in the book:  Sometimes the information conveyed about ME/CFS hails from an earnest after-school special, and the romantic B plot needs way more time to marinate before it implodes.  Yet the brisk-paced novel decidedly works. The author makes the reader feel McKenney's compassion for her bevy of animals, especially her prized horse Blue.  The tension in the book keeps building, and the ending will thrill any person touched by ME/CFS:  The good guys triumph in a showdown replete with guns, murder and determined townspeople uniting against the evildoers until no one can ignore or malign the disease anymore. 

Ah, isn’t it pretty to think so?

Caroline T. Anderson is the pen name for a reporter who suffered from ME/CFS since childhood.  After more than 40 years living with the disease, she recovered with a combination of the antiviral famcyclovir and the old-line arthritis/lupus drug methotrexate. 


  1. Thanks for the review, Mindy...I'll check out this book.

    And, I'm clicking *like* on your Sun Also Rises reference. ;)

  2. I'm happy to see a novel that concludes that "no one can ignore or malign the disease anymore". I'll celebrate too when they bring out a movie or hopefully movies. Maybe a novel or movie will be able to accomplish in a shorter time what many emails and other efforts have not been able to do.

  3. Judy Mikovits:
    to quote John Mellors "how many negative will it take to get rid of these religious fanatics"

    you may blog it and discourage anyone from [participating ..Their goal is to prove everyone negative fro XMRV/MRV total corruption...crime against humanity.

  4. Recovery after 40 years of ME/CFS. That's fantastic. Methotrexate is an anti-cancer drug, too.

  5. Zac,

    The author didn't have ME/CFS for forty years. She had rhematoid arthritis since around the age of 8, and was a working reporter, still is, was a runner for 15 years until she crashed with ME/CFS in her 50's. Two separate illnesses.

    The positive part about her book is that it does accurately describe what it's like to be sick with CFS, but the conspiracy part is way over the top, and as Mindy suggests, the romantic subplot is hokey, and I would suggest the ending is even hokier.

    But Ms. Johnson, I mean Anderson, is to be credited for her efforts, and congratulated for finding a treatment that has helped her, even if it's pretty toxic. Hopefully she won't have to take it for too much longer.

  6. First of all I loved this book. Couldn't put it down. In response to anonymous, they didn't know what CFS was back in the 1950s and went by symptoms and labeled the author with RA. I can for sure see that happening. Who can know for sure what she did or didn't have? She says on her website in retrospect she thinks she had CFS all these years. Also, I have been trading research with her since reading the book and she told me her real name. It's not Johnson, so I don't know who you are thinking about, but it's not the author of this book.

  7. Methotrexate did a World of good for me; but at 21 pills per week, I was sick constantly from the high dosage. I have ME/CFS/GWI and 7 auto immune diseases, one being psoriatic arthritis. I am on valcyte and Enbrel now and doing well, about ready to switch to valtrex or famovir...for long term. LOVE hearing success stories. We need MORE! Julia Hugo Rachel


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