Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: The Double Bind

Chris Bohjalian sure doesn't get stuck in one subject matter and stay there. The Buffalo Soldier was totally different than Skeletons at the Feast, and The Double Bind is just completely different from those two. I like that about him.

The Double Bind was completely mesmerizing. I loved the concept. The main character, Laurel, is a survivor of a terrible crime who has recovered well enough to have a successful job at a homeless shelter. She is asked to track down some information on a homeless man who recently died, and she quickly becomes obsessed with finding this man's life story. He is, she believes, the son of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, of The Great Gatsby fame.

This is where I fell in love with the book. I've always loved The Great Gatsby, and the thought of weaving a contemporary novel in with this classic work of fiction as if it were true—well, Bohjalian's brilliant. I got to see and hear about the whole Gatsby drama again (and realized it's been much too long since I read the book) in a surprising, enthralling way. I halfway believed it was all real.

And then Bohjalian switched things up, and I was kind of irritated with and even betrayed by him when I finished the book. Just kind of. I laid in bed way too early this morning and ran through the book in my head. I felt a need to go back and read certain passages for clarity. What all did I miss? I am not always a careful reader, and I think one should be very careful when reading Bohjalian.

And I think one should read Bohjalian. He is just about as good as it gets in contemporary literature, even with twists and switches that leave me unable to sleep. I am putting all his books on my TBR list, this minute.


Marbel said...

Wow! I'm intrigued!

Elisabeth said...

I haven't picked this one up (though I've been a fan of his) because my mom had the exact same reaction as you did to the end. I've recently read a couple where I've felt the same way, and I do get angry when I feel the writer has 'pulled a fast one' on their reader. If there smart clues, I'm OK with big surprises, but according to my mom (and you know) this one seems to come from no where. Nice review.

Sherry said...

Hmmmm . . . I can't decide. The Gatsby-tie in is appealing, but I don't want to read it if it's going to make me mad. Can you suggest a novel by Bojalian to start with so that I can see if I at least like the author enough to give this one a try?