Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Have another plot, need title and author. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Have another plot, need title and author.
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: kateyre-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 16 Nov 2006 20:23 PST
Expires: 16 Dec 2006 20:23 PST
Question ID: 783468
I believe the title is an one word portmanteau-ish term.  I think part
of it may include "artist?" "human?"  I read this in the late 1990s to

It's about a social worker (male) who to his disbelief discovers an
idiot savant (male) with an amazing creative artistic gift.  The social
worker is further incensed by the man's sheer joy in the creative

I believe they first met on the steps of the Met in NY.  

The social worker then proceeds to gain control of and experiment on
this man to see what would happen to the man's gift for art if
deprived of both stimuli and the means of expression.  Ultimately the
social worker locks up the idiot savant in an empty room and starves
him to death.

Request for Question Clarification by juggler-ga on 18 Nov 2006 02:56 PST
This one makes your "Veronica" question seem easy!   

Do you remember any other details?  Anything at all might help.  What
sort of art did the idiot savant create?  Paintings? Sculptures?

Are you absolutely sure that the main character was a social worker? 
Can you recall any other details about his job?

Clarification of Question by kateyre-ga on 18 Nov 2006 08:50 PST
The idiot savant lived with his elderly mother, who died and left him
under the care of the social worker.

The main character is definitely a social worker.  He spends a lot of
time talking about being a social worker.  I think he (very well
educated) enjoys it because it makes him feel superior.

The idiot savant doesn't speak, and I believe is wheel chair bound. 
His mother is very happy with him but doesn't understand when he
begins to create art.  She doesn't realize how amazing his creations
are.  I believe he mostly paints in the modernist/abstract mode.  Once
he discovers artistic expression, it becomes necessary for him, almost
like breathing.

Towards the end of the novel, when the idiot savant is locked up in
the empty room, starving to death, he starts painting the walls with
his own blood, feces, etc.

Thanks for looking into this.  I'm so mad that I've forgotten the name
of this novel.  At one point I even wrote a review of it on Amazon
-but under "anonymous" unfortunately.
Subject: Re: Have another plot, need title and author.
Answered By: rainbow-ga on 18 Nov 2006 11:09 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi kateyre,

I believe the book you are thinking of is called "The Nihilesthete" by
Richard Kalich.

Editorial Reviews
"Only when something is dead can we possess it. Only when it's dead
can we really control it." Haberman is a social worker in Harlem. It's
an appalling job with brutal paperwork, a nit-picking boss, and
clients whose lives are relentlessly depressing. He is deeply
entrenched in his resentment of anyone who aspires to be something
more, who creates and gives and believes in life. Then one day he
meets his destiny: a limbless, mentally deficient man named Brodski
who appears to have a spark of appreciation for art. A relationship
begins, an emotionally intimate relationship in which Haberman travels
out to the borders of his sanity and beyond, and Brodski desperately
grows and changes and reaches for Beauty--all without words, in a
bleak endgame that Samuel Beckett might've imagined. "The Nihilesthete
speaks with a singular honesty, power and eloquence about our
spiritually diminished modern world," wrote the Mid-American Review."

From Publishers Weekly
"In this suffocatingly gloomy first novel, Haberman, a social
caseworker based in Harlem, morbidly attaches himself to one of his
wards: Brodski, a hideously deformed quadriplegic whose speech
consists of garbled sounds. Somehow Haberman, a man in his mid-50s who
once may have entertained the notion of becoming an artist, senses
that Brodski is an incipient painter and makes it the mission of his
desolate life to help the quadriplegic realize his ambition. Equipped
with all sorts of prosthetic devices, Brodski paints magnificentlyin
the style, we are solemnly informed, of abstract expressionism, or
primitive minimalism, where "less is more." But despite his initial
good will, Haberman is driven by malign jealousy to deprive his
protege of everything that makes life bearable. This parable of art
and the forces that seek to destroy it is so static and literal minded
that the reader is not so much harrowed as oppressed by its grim

This book is available for purchase at Amazon:

Search criteria: book "social worker" art

I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions regarding my answer,
or believe this is not the book you are looking for, please don?t
hesitate to ask for further assistance before rating.

Best regards,
kateyre-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks Rainbow!

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy