“This Never Happened” is a psychological speculative fiction novel written by R. Tim Morris about a young misfit New Yorker named Cepik Small. In addition to more mundane life difficulties (a poor relationship with his father, an ex-love, a mundane job, few friends), Cepik has prosopagnosia (face blindness) and therefore must memorize someone’s appearance quirks (like the way they wear their clothes) or risk not recognizing them, even if he has known them for years. Cepik is on a cocktail of drugs to help him stay focused on reality, which is difficult for him because he feels that he, literally, doesn’t belong in this world. His analyst has an emergency forcing Cepik to engage with a new therapist. The new “doctor” uses questionable methods and thus begins Cepik’s adventures; these include meeting Abi, a young woman with issues of her own who is mysteriously drawn to him.
Mr. Morris wrote his novel in the second person, which he pulls this off quite well; initially, it is a little confusing, but this is done on purpose and sorts itself out as the story moves along. There are some colorful side characters; a popular coworker/friend who can’t help but try to get Cepik to “improve” his social station; a whacky analyst who seems more concerned about his own mental health than Cepik’s; and Abi, the love interest, whose father works in a Coney Island “freak” show. Mr. Morris writes well. The story develops in such a way as to keep you guessing until the end; it also keeps you hopeful that Cepik will land on his feet. This is a cerebral read but there is action and some pretty dry (and not so dry) humor as well. If you are looking for a story of a misfit finding his very unique place in the world, this novel, with a bit of sadness, humor, and grace, will fit the bill. Five stars.