A doctor and a defrocked priest with a questionable past work together to aid the down and out and those suffering from psychiatric problems. They utilize the priest’s incredible empathy and understanding of the broken human condition, and the doctor’s authority and connections, working to improve the community and the lives of the patients coming out of the psychiatric hospital.
This has been the most difficult book to get my hands on thus far in my Pulitzer project. The University of Texas Library did not have a copy available to check out. I could have used the interlibrary loan system to try to find a copy, but that usually takes a few weeks, and I discovered that the University of Texas did have a copy of Victim and Victor in the Harry Ransom Collection. This required my visiting the reading room at the Harry Ransom Library and reading the material on site, which inhibited my usual method of reading while sprawled on a sofa any time I felt like it, day or night. But the librarians at the Ransom Library were wonderful, and the copy of the book was in great condition (and signed by the author). Thus, I was able to read Victim and Victor without waiting for an interlibrary loan. And I’m so glad I was able to, because this book was fantastic.
The book is narrated by Claude, a doctor, as he tells the story of Father Michael through the priests own journals and letters, and through Claude’s personal experience and notes from their time working together. Michael is a defrocked priest, who spends some time in prison, and first meets Claude when the doctor helps treat him in a psychiatric hospital. After Michael helps Claude find a patient who has run off and stop him from committing suicide, Claude begins to enlist the help of Michael in treating his psychiatric patients, while attempting to treat Michael as well, by helping him get the one thing he desires: to be a priest again.