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Dear Gladys
Daryl Sharp
The Survival Papers Book 2
Published by Inner City Press in 1988
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


In the opening of the book Sharp introduces us to his anima, Rachel. He then proceeds to tell the story of Norman while holding a dialogue with Rachel who asks questions and variously meta-comments on the book - while it is being written apparently. Thus Sharp models for us his anima-side, which helps him direct the flow of the book and his life.

In addition, there's Arnold. I couldn't tell if Arnold was real or not, but Arnold gave various pieces of advice to Sharp while he's writing the book. At times Rachel and Arnold take part in a dialogue (which add some confusion as to the exact nature of Arnold's existence). But it doesn't matter because the story flows very well and we are drawn into Norman's life with and apart from Nancy, his on-again, off-again wife. Nancy even appears for analysis with the author and we get to experience her first hand rather than through Norman's musings and complaints.

When Norman decides to go into analyst training in Zurich, we sense a reluctance on the analyst's part to recommend Norman. The author (as he does in many parts of the book) doesn't answer Norman's question about the letter of recommendation, but goes into a lengthy reprise of the circumstances surrounding his own decision to become an analyst. The analyst seldom answers the questions of the analysand, but instead goes into fantasies about his personal experiences in similar circumstances.

In one of these fantasies we discover Walt, who is the author's shadow side, living in a college frat house from which he posts his journalistic endeavors. Walt lives in a dirty, unkempt, dishevelled environment and the author comes to him for advice on all manner of decisions.

In the end Norman individuates and heads for Zurich. Sharp closes the book by saying "In this book not all the characters are live, but those that are, I heartily thank."

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