Doctor Bob

Amorous Adventures of a Psychiatrist Addicted to Women and Alcohol

Fiction - Drama
294 Pages
Reviewed on 07/03/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite

Doctor Bob: Amorous Adventures of a Psychiatrist Addicted to Women and Alcohol by Peter Kelton is a challenging, complex amalgam of psychiatry, cosmology, birdwatching, communing with animals, fine food and drink, chaotic relationships, Japanese design, Mafia surveillance, the pathos of Skid Row, Amazonian forestry, helping others, and finding one’s ideal mate. Mailorder psychiatrist Robert Bennet gets drunk with his alcoholic patients so he can identify with them. He is a practitioner of Active Listening. He believes in a therapy that exhausts the patient’s concerns about whatever—in this case, a lot of astrophysics—until said patient discovers his or her true identity and goes about trying to live it. In a lecture to community college advisers, a key to the message of a tangled narrative, he explains that we (all of us) have the capacity for addiction to something, whether alcohol or work or whatever. The trick is to find a balance between what we crave and the remainder of our existence.

In reading Peter Kelton’s often bewildering and challenging book, I learned a lot. I didn’t allow myself to get thrown off by Dr. Bob’s dreadful violation of professional ethics, or the long, mind-bending flights into the risk of madness by the study of astrophysics, or even his connection with the Trafficante crime family, or the differences among Alice, Angela, Jennifer, Lori, Susan, Kimberly, Megan, Melissa, and Linda. Or the confusing web of chronology. Great books are always challenging, and part of this masterpiece of angst, agony, and ambiguity is listening. In this case, patient reading. Doctor Bob by Peter Kelton is about what every great book is about—how to live and love in a chaotic universe. Be persistent enough, read as though you are actively listening, and answers will pop up in as unlikely a spot as a pajama pillow fight to the crooning of Willie Nelson.

Stephanie Chapman

Peter Kelton's Doctor Bob: Amorous Adventures of a Psychiatrist Addicted to Women and Alcohol is a unique novel with a realistic view. “Dr. Bob” recounts his years as a type of psychiatrist from the start of his career and creation of an addiction treatment center. He preferred to live in a tent with homeless people, an area called Skid Row in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Bob doesn't have an official degree in psychiatry; however, that doesn't prevent him from treating court-ordered addicts. Robert Erickson is ordered for treatment, and both end up making elaborate plans on a white tablecloth to create an addiction recovery center. The book takes off with Dr. Bob recounting the affairs he had with multiple women patients, all of whom stated, “You make a good listener.” The only patient he has the insatiable desire to be with is Linda, but she is proving to be the most difficult person he could ever work with.

Doctor Bob is relatable to everyday events. There are several instances where Peter Kelton's writing didn't seem to be fictional but rather more like a memoir. While the dialogue of the book is between Dr. Bob and his patients, I did notice most of the patients had a fascination with astrophysics. The detail of the science was a bit extreme, and I found myself discouraged at times because of my lack of knowledge of the topic. I also found it amazing that a person who earns enough to keep an apartment would prefer living among homeless people and opting to forego hygienic practices. I did find something that made absolute sense regarding Dr. Bob's approach in therapy: “What is it you really want? What would make me happy?” Thinking over that statement, I was able to grasp the concept that most people just need to be motivated to pursue dreams or decide what their true ambition is to break away from addiction and homelessness. I would recommend the novel to people who are struggling with addiction, and readers that enjoy in-depth discussions of astrophysics. The timeline of the story is easy to follow, and several parts are quite humorous as well.

Rabia Tanveer

Doctor Bob: Amorous Adventures of a Psychiatrist Addicted to Women and Alcohol by Peter Kelton is an entertaining story of a man with a sense of shady ethical boundaries. Doctor Robert Bennet, a.k.a. Bob, thrived on treating addicts, even though he was addicted to alcohol as well. But that wasn’t his only sin. Apart from alcohol, there were two other things he could never say no to--Skid Row and women who are strictly off-limits to him. You might think that was enough for the good doctor to pack his bags and reflect on himself, but you'd be wrong. He didn’t know what he wanted and how he could get it. But that was not stopping him from reaching out and grabbing his future. Could he survive living the imaginative life he had created? Or was it all going to come back and bite where it hurts the most?

Witty, humorous, and incredibly enjoyable to read, this story had me hooked. Bob had a very happy-go-lucky attitude to life, even if his actions could get him into some big trouble. He knew what he was doing was not sustainable, but he simply did not want to stop. Bob lived as he pleased, did what he wanted, and acted how he wanted to. He was not carefree but was a man of his word. Bob's the kind of modern anti-hero that I like to indulge in. It wasn’t as if Bob didn’t know he was wrong; he simply didn’t care. Despite this, Doctor Bob was not a one-dimensional character, and the author made sure of it. Peter Kelton kept the pace just right and allowed the reader to immerse themselves in Bob’s adventures and enjoy the ride. I thoroughly enjoyed Doctor Bob: Amorous Adventures of a Psychiatrist Addicted to Women and Alcohol.