Welcome Home, Sir

Caplan - Cover - 9781937536091 - 2-final

A novel published by Anaphora Literary Press

Summary

Dr. Ethan Meyer is a professor of biochemistry who conducts scientific research and teaches at an American academic institution. Outwardly, he is a poster-child for success; he runs his laboratory with efficiency and care, projects an air of confidence, and is highly respected. Inwardly, Ethan feels as though he is coming apart at the seams, as the post-traumatic stress disorder he incurred in the Israeli army spirals into a cycle of tortuous hypochondria and threatens to unravel his personal life.

As Ethan battles his symptoms and struggles with his dual American-Israeli identity, seeking help from a psychologist but avoiding medication, he embarks on a path of self-discovery. Through a series of darkly humorous flashbacks, he realizes how his own military service—the apparent cause of his current condition—has molded his character and contributed to his academic successes.

While fighting his personal demons and struggling to keep his family together, Ethan must also navigate a series of crises at work—culminating with the dismissal of a foreign student for fabricating lab results. As the departure of his wife and child for Israel leave him with no choice but to up-the-ante in the struggle to control his hypochondria, Ethan comes to realize that his student may have been framed, and he races against time to correct his error.

 

Book reviews: Welcome Home, Sir

“In his head and in his lab things aren’t always what they seem, and Professor Meyers, tormented by a shameful neurosis and a marriage in tatters, has to uncover the truth behind an unthinkable lie before the wrong person gets punished. Welcome Home, Sir, by Steve Caplan is a masterfully-written, tightly-wound story about a soldier who comes home from war without injuries, but with plenty of scars.”

-Boston Literary Magazine

 

“This book is about an academic researcher who is living with mental illness. Ethan Meyer is a hypochondriac, to a surprising degree. Meanwhile in his lab there are fishy goings on that build up to a crisis, just at the same time that his personal life builds to a crisis.

The book is a series of short chapters, making it very readable. Ethan comes across as a sensitive and caring individual, concerned to do the best for the junior researchers working in his lab. They are a mixed bunch, from the deceitful Brian and trusting Rebecca to the troubled Sylvia and a hard-working Chinese student, Jianguo. Caplan captures some of the flavour of the life of a senior academic, describing high-level committee meetings, and the outrageous behaviour of bullying meeting chairs.

While the main action of the book is set in Ethan’s research lab, there are regular flashbacks to his time in the Israeli army, and the disturbing or formative experiences he went through. They shed light on Ethan’s current condition and his approach to life, though the links to the flashbacks sometimes seem a little forced.

The darkness of the novel is leavened by generous helpings of humour, and dialogue that flows very naturally. It is well-paced and builds up to a satisfying climax and resolution.”

-Frank Norman

Welcome home sir by Steve Caplan was published in 2011.

This essay was published in the Mill Hill Essays 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9572625-2-2

 

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