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Pilcrow by Adam Mars-Jones
Pilcrow is told in memoir form by an adult John Cromer telling story of his earlier life. As a boy in the 1950s, he was hearty enough to be on the cover of Nursery World magazine. Soon after, though, he developed Still's disease, which was misdiagnosed and he was sent to bed rest, perhaps the worst choice as it allowed his disease to settle into his joints rendering his unable to move without help. After years in bed, he was sent to a special hospital and then to a school for children with long term illnesses. It's a world where he's often left with just his thoughts when he's not abused by sadistic caregivers. One of his discoveries while at school is that he's gay. In a world that might be cruel and hopeless, John Cromer uses the strength of his personality, intelligence, and humour to overcome it all. Adam Mars-Jones's novel has received mixed reviews with the Times Literary Supplement saying, "But Pilcrow is, apart from all else, too subtle a book to be programmatic. It renders the interior voice of an exceptional being agilely and plausibly, and it does justice to a peculiar historical moment, both brutal and byzantine, bright with possibility yet thicketed with codes and conventions. It is also, in places, very funny. But it does give off a certain chill."