Reviews / Testimonials:

“No sleep, no rest for the mind just makes the descent all the more quick. Self-Murder is the tale of a man who falls deeper and deeper into a haze of confusion, as his insomnia deprives him of sleep and he finds his only comfort in the excesses of life. As he pursues love, the strength of that emotion only spins his life out even more, and as he loses control of reality, he may do things he regrets. Self-Murder is a fascinating and excellent psychological thriller readers won't be able to put down.”

Midwest Book Review (in "Small Press Bookwatch, February 2010")

"Robert Scott Leyse channels Baudelaire's Queen of Spades and Jack of Hearts, speaking darkly of dead loves, in this new book. He also reminds me of James Purdy's notorious eccentricity. There's plenty of middlebrow stuff if you want it. Self-Murder isn't that."

Kris Saknussemm, author of Zanesville and Private Midnight

“A phantasmagoria of unbridled lust, sexual obsession, and stealth madness, Robert Scott Leyse’s Self-Murder is a dazzling indictment of desire that brims with sensory imagery and moments of exquisite verbal beauty delivered by a narrative voice that is baroque but disturbing and more than a little reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe.”

—Gary Earl Ross, author of Blackbird Rising: A Novel of the American Spirit and the Edgar Award-winning drama Matter of Intent

“After his first novel, Liaisons For Laughs, which took Sex and the City to new heights and depths, Robert Scott Leyse's second one, Self-Murder, explores broader, deeper, and darker territories. Leyse achieves a striking stylistic gallimaufry: Proustian memories underpinning thoughts, words, and deeds; obsession treated in a way which evokes Lolita without those irritating Nabokovian curlicues; romps that Henry Miller would have enjoyed; a finale that delivers a blow to the solar plexus.”

—Barry Baldwin, Emeritus Professor of Classics, U. of Calgary, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Self-Murder is lush sensuality of language injected with menace. A vivid portrait of mental disintegration and an explosive picture-show. Hallucinations without substance-abuse. Overwrought nerves and insomnia are Self-Murders drugs of choice.”

—George Fosty, ESPN featured author of Black Ice and Splendid is the Sun

“Here is a psychological struggle and sensual breakout where you best get a comfortable seat, grab the joy stick, and hang on. This is a delicious look at the mystery of self-psychoanalysis, sensual release, acceptance of gifts of the tallest order, or the lowest. For those with wander-lust, and all the taste, touch and aroma imaginable in-between, Self-Murder is a journey to gorge the senses where the reader gets relished time and time again, as the protagonist chases himself through discovery of the basics that make the world go round.”

—Tom Sheehan, author of Epic Cures and Brief Cases, Short Spans

"This is a good/fun read I can highly recommend to readers searching for something different and don't mind entering the mind of the insane."

Allbooks Reviews


A dark love story of obsessive fixation, perceptual disorientation, insomnia, and psychic seizures—with madness waiting in the wings.

“Do you dare to fall in love?” asks the narrator of Self-Murder, and then answers by detailing an instance of attraction to a “breath-stealing” beauty which swiftly becomes an obsessive fixation, such that all else melts from his awareness, his sanity is stretched to its limits, and madness threatens to engulf him. Shifting emotional extremes, sensual excess, and prolonged sleep deprivation: all combine to erode the narrator’s tenuous hold on rationality and propel him into a somnambulistic waking state where the distinction between what’s real and imagined blurs, and he’s no longer able to be certain of how he’s behaving; without being aware of it, he may have committed murder.

Self-Murder depicts a hallucinatory landscape of the mind and emotions, as terrifying as it is surprisingly and astoundingly beautiful, while probing the elusiveness of memory and difficulty of accurately apprehending our inner state of affairs—or of understanding the underlying motives of our actions.



Opening: Ensnarement in Recollection

Dearest reader, I’m not facing this blank page willingly; not addressing you willingly; not commencing this recollection willingly. Believe me, I’d much prefer to have succeeded in returning to the stable manner of life I enjoyed previous to when the experience I’m going to recount shattered that life; much prefer to have succeeded in reassembling the pieces of that life, assimilating the experience which troubles me; much prefer to remain unknown to you, pass my days in obscurity, be as silent as the grave. But the fact of the matter is that, even though the events I’ll be describing transpired over three years ago, the unanswered questions connected with those events continue to distract and disquiet me, swathe my thoughts and dreams in oppressive shadows, transform all efforts to sleep into cold-sweat-anointed ordeals. The fact of the matter is that time, instead of healing this wound, has further opened and infected it; that time, instead of inducing merciful forgetfulness, has seen fit to prod and sting me with unceasing speculations as to what actually occurred during those tumultuous months; that time, instead of restoring me to a manageable frame of mind, has brought about a degree of mental distress which is more impossible to force into the background—lose in any amount of mindless diversion or conscientious effort to resurrect a professional life—than the searing pain of a knife-thrust. So yes, I’m facing this page because I need to wrestle with the memory which haunts me, transfer an unnerving experience onto it and those which will follow; because I hope to purge myself of my past, rid myself of it once and for all.

I’ve been attempting to avoid this moment—I’ve fought it off for as long as I possibly can. Because, dearest reader, to repeat something already stated above in a slightly different manner: if you’re inclined to suppose I’ve commenced this reminiscence because I feel writing’s a fine thing and that it would be commendable to frame a past sequence of bewildering events in the form of a novel for the edification of others (demonstrate that one can, indeed, exert oneself to rise above suchlike events and, perhaps, succeed in doing so), then you’re wrong. The only reason I’m going to complete this paragraph and begin another one is because there’s nowhere else for me to run. If, for one moment, I could believe suicide was a solution; if, for one moment, I could believe the act of shooting myself would instantly liberate me from this present which is a ceaseless accumulation of distress fueled by a memory that steadfastly refuses to declare itself, resists all my efforts to get to the bottom of its stranglehold upon me, then I wouldn’t hesitate to point a pistol at the side of my head and pull the trigger. But, although I wish with all my heart I could believe otherwise, nothing will ever convince me that the next world is strong enough to serve as a refuge from inner conflicts left unresolved in this one: a persistent inner whisper—which, try as I might, I can’t shout to silence—informs me that discharging the pistol would be nothing but a futile, naive and misdirected, postponement of the cure and that, like it or not, I’d eventually find myself—in some future equally unsettling life—right back to where I am now: being under the necessity of coming to terms with a disquieting past.

I well know what I want from the next life: complete and everlasting annihilation. That’s right, no memories, no sensations—not the slightest trace of thought in my head, most infinitesimal flicker in my nerves. But, again, the inner whisper informs me that such an afterlife—hardly-to-be-hoped-for state of permanent insentience—must be earned; yes, informs me that such an afterlife is beyond one’s reach as long as one’s in a condition of disunity with oneself; that all inner rifts persist into the next world, and must be resolved in the present before one can hope to attain to the state of deep dreamless sleep one craves. So there you have it: a resolution of inner differences is what I’m endeavoring to accomplish by penning these words, the sole reason I’m bothering. And I’ll say it again: if I thought I’d instantly be propelled into everlasting silence by the act of discharging a pistol aimed at my temple, I’d do it this moment without hesitation and this sentence would never be completed, the words you’re reading wouldn’t exist.

And now, dearest reader, I ask: do you dare to fall in love? I no longer do! What’s love? It’s the sudden seizure by unfamiliar emotions which delight and frighten in equal measure, subordinate one’s will and personality, transform one into someone else. What’s love? It’s the hunger which increases with one’s every attempt to sate it until one’s adrift in it, being whirled and knocked about, like a leaf in the frothing water of a swift stream. It’s a sure thing the sun will set in the west every evening; it’s also a sure thing, as regards love, that there will come a point when the woman with whom one’s captivated will begin to dissolve and vanish from under one’s caresses, provide not relief from but added temperature to the fever which is burning one up; a point when one will find oneself engulfed in surge after insatiable surge of roiling desire, desperate for a means of calming oneself all but impossible to find. Too much is never, ever, enough. “More! More! More!” is the one and only thought buzzing in one’s head.

Yes, love—wonderful love! What does love do? It carries one outside the established boundaries of one’s existence, uproots one from one’s accustomed manner of life. What does love do? It does away with all points of reference, guidelines of conduct, and rules of convention. Is this a good thing? a romantic thing? Not if one suddenly finds oneself helpless to resist impulses one was formerly rightfully wary of, begins to recoil before the possibility of committing unforgivable acts!

It’s a fact that checks and balances no longer exist when the sight of the face of one’s beloved—vertiginous plunge into the bottomless brightness of her eyes—is one’s reflection as one’s never seen it before, an onslaught of churning dreams one never knew one had. It’s a fact that the inevitable outcome of love which refuses to compromise and suppress itself—become habitual, submit to the impositions of civilization—is a state of sensory overstimulation that begins to isolate one from not only the object of one’s affection but from the world at large, and cause one to blankly stare in response to all words, rituals. What follows? There’s no telling what the state of isolation, intensity of thought-dissolving desire, brought about by love may compel one to do; no telling what one may resort to in efforts to be liberated from one’s affliction, set free.

So I ask again: do you dare to fall in love? dare to permit unbridled love to run its full course within you? And further: have you ever fled from your loved one at the very instant you were craving her embrace because you knew a few more moments in her vicinity might be enough to inundate you with sensations you’d be unable to reliably regulate—perhaps propel you towards loss-of-self-moderation-engendered criminal behavior? I have! That’s right, I fled from my beloved—my endlessly doted upon one-and-only—because her mere presence was convulsing my senses, obliterating my thoughts, eroding my personality to such an extent I was fearful of losing every trace of inner stability, tasting of urges sane individuals avoid. Yes, I fled from her even though she was the beginning and end of everything that meant anything to me—fled from her while soul-alteringly in love with her!

But flight from one’s beloved, the permanent removal of oneself from her physical proximity, is one thing; flight from the love one feels for her, the persistent effects of that love upon one, is something else altogether. Because love doesn’t relinquish its claims, permit itself to be relegated to the sidelines, without offering resistance. So yes, although I saw no more of my beloved, the love I felt for her continued to generate itself within me and I was unable to distance myself from it: an understatement if there ever was one. That’s right, I did my best to run from love without looking back—without remembrance, reflection, regret, any thought whatsoever; but love continued to flare within me and, deprived of its usual outlet, forced me into prolonged periods of sleeplessness during which increasingly vivid and attention-monopolizing waking dreams reined unopposed; yes, gave birth to an uncontrollably excitable imagination which steadily substituted itself for the world about me; an imagination which laid claim to my mental and sensory faculties to such an extent it soon began to affect my feelings, determine my actions.

And it was in that atmosphere of love’s aftermath; atmosphere of perceptual distortion and emotional disarray, nonstop abrupt mood shifts, unceasing swings from one extreme of behavior to another; atmosphere of imagination-inundation, such that I was incapable of believing I was able to determine if I was actually feeling a certain way or only imagining I was... But why am I acting as if this love-aftermath atmosphere is a thing of the past? It continues at this very moment—it’s the reason I’m writing this introduction, commencing this reminiscence. That’s right, dearest reader, it’s the memory of that love which haunts me; it’s the tumult-obscured events of that love which afflict me with devouring doubts; it’s the unabated influence of that love which undermines my every attempt to think clearly, get to the bottom of how I could’ve possibly acted as I did, determine in exactly what manner I did act; it’s that love which both forms the subject of and forces me to pen the pages that follow. But, enough—no more procrastinating! My reminiscence begins on the following page...


Opening: Ensnarement in Recollection

Copyright © 2009
by Robert Scott Leyse
All rights reserved.



All contents Copyright © 2007-2011 by Robert Scott Leyse. All rights reserved.