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 (email@example.com) is the lucky winner!