metro mama

Friday, May 25, 2007

Metro Reco: The Double Bind

As you know, I read a lot of Canlit. I’ve been intending to broaden my horizons and my friend Jen gave me a gentle push by sending me one of her recommendations, The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian.

A young student, Laurel Estabrook, suffers a violent attack on a lonely bike path in Vermont. The incident changes her profoundly, leaving the formerly outgoing, vibrant woman guarded and wary. She takes a job at a homeless shelter and meets Bobbie Crocker, a mentally ill man with a box of photographs he won’t show to anyone. When Bobbie dies, Laurel, an amateur photographer herself, is given the task of examining the photographs. She immediately suspects they are the product of a great talent, and identifies famous subjects in the works, such as Chuck Berry and Eartha Kitt. The photos also lead her to a connection with Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan and Laurel becomes more deeply involved in the mystery of Bobbie Crocker’s true identity.

Part literary mystery, part psychological thriller, The Double Bind sucks you in and keeps your eyeballs glued to the pages, from the harrowing beginning to the shocking conclusion.

The novel is inspired by the photographs of once-homeless man Bob “Soupy” Campbell who died in an apartment found for him by a shelter in Vermont. The author says, “we were all mystified as to how Campbell had gone from photographing luminaries from the 1950s and 1960s to winding up at a homeless shelter in northern Vermont. He had no surviving family we were aware of that we could ask. The reality, of course, is that Campbell probably wound up homeless for any one of the myriad reasons that most transients wind up on the streets: mental illness. Substance abuse. Bad luck.” The stunning photos are interwoven in the novel. To see them, and learn more about Bob Campbell, click here.

Chris Bohjalian is the author of ten novels. His novel Midwives was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and a Publishers Weekly "Best Book”. He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.

Generous Jen does not want me to send her book back, so I’d like to pass it on to one of you (maybe you can tell us what you think and then pass it along as well). First one to email me ( is the lucky winner!



Blogger Ms. Porter said...

sounds really good

3:09 PM  
Blogger Mouse said...

Already sent my email since this sounds like a really compelling read!

4:34 PM  
Blogger cinnamon gurl said...

Damn. Guess I'll have to look for it at the library.

Thanks for the recommendation. Sounds intriguing and right up my alley. And thanks for the link... his photos are amazing!

6:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

Sounds like a great read but looks like I missed out on the free copy. I'm going to have to pick this one up.

7:57 PM  
Blogger NotSoSage said...

So many good books, so little time.

8:56 PM  
Blogger jen said...

you know, it was the end that got me, too.

i didn't see that coming, i mean, i might have missed the signs, but damn if i never saw that coming.

glad you loved it.

10:15 AM  
Blogger petite gourmand said...

sounds excellent

11:22 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

Ack, I missed out on emailing you! That book sounds terrific and you write a very compelling review.

4:05 PM  
Blogger something blue said...

Chris Bohjalian is a wonderful writer. If you'd like more of his novels to read, I have a couple that I could lend to you.

3:33 PM  
Blogger hip_ragdoll said...

I too did not see the end coming and that's why I enjoyed the book as much as I did. Once I finished it, I flipped back through the whole book and reread parts, just to make sure I was really understanding it.

9:02 AM  

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