Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

A few weeks ago, David and I were walking through the Joseph Beth Bookstore in Cleveland where Bohjalian was reading at the mike from this novel. I overheard someone ask a question about The Great Gatsby, which made me pick up a copy of the book from the piles about to be signed by the author and read the dust jacket blurb. The Double Bind weaves characters and events from Fitzgerald's novel with Bohjalian's story, which centers around a box of old black and white photographs taken by Bohjalian's character Bobby Crocker. Bobby winds up at a homeless shelter where one of the workers, Laurel Estabrook, herself a survivor of a brutal attack, takes an interest in the pictures. Since I am teaching Gatsby right not to my juniors, I bought the book and, thanks to the day off so voters could roam our school on Ohio primary day yesterday, I read most of it in one sitting. I was stunned by its intricacy and depth. I don't want to give anything away but I was totally taken by the "double bind" of the novel itself. I can't stop thinking about it, and just might try to find a way to use it with my students as a follow up to Fitzgerald.

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