Posts Tagged ‘Trauma’

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

December 15, 2009

“Laurel Estabrook was nearly raped the fall of her sophomore year of college.  Quite likely she was nearly murdered that autumn.”  These opening sentences drew me in, and I hardly put the book down until I was finished.  But this is not a novel about an attack.  It is a novel about the aftermath.

Six years after her brutal attack, Laurel is a social worker in a homeless shelter in Vermont.  After the death of one of the shelter’s residents, Bobby Crocker, she is asked to evaluate, and curate, a show of a large collection of photographs he obviously took.  Schizophrenic and alcoholic, Bobbie Crocker wasn’t really your stereotypical street person.  His photographs were used in 1960s issues of Life magazine, and included  Eartha Kitt, Dick Van Dyke, Muddy Waters—they’re celebrity shots he took, combined with elegant evocations of Jazz Age Long Island.  But among these fascinating shots, Laurel discovers something else:  photographs of her home town, and a snapshot of herself riding a bike, just as she had, on the day of her attack.   As she devotes more and more time to researching Crocker’s past, her friends and family become concerned for her mental well-being.

On the surface, this sounds like a straightforward story.  It isn’t.  Laurel is from East Egg, NY.  And many of the photographs she finds in Crocker’s collection are from East Egg, and include pictures of Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby.  Can this be true?  Is this, in some way a sequel to The Great Gatsby?  This is an amazingly complex novel, with a surprise ending I never would have imagined.

Click here to find this book in our catalog.


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