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The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

The Double Bind

by Chris Bohjalian

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,1541493,020 (3.66)102

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Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
curious book ( )
  morieel | Oct 25, 2015 |
As usual, Bohjalian keeps you turning the pages. Can't say I was fond of the ending, though. ( )
  VashonJim | Sep 5, 2015 |
3.5 stars

Holy moly!!!!

I can't figure out how to write a review of this one without including any spoilers that would ruin reading it.

I was shocked by the last 3 pages. Shocked. I didn't see it coming.

Rarely do books surprise me...this one did magnificently & without leaving me frustrated or feeling like the ending was a cop out.

I have been & will remain a fan of Bohjalian's writing. ( )
  PiperUp | Aug 14, 2015 |
Spoiler-ey in generalization only.

What is it about an unreliable narrator that can make us skeptical, disbelieving and looking for lies, and yet still manages to deceive us and make for a jaw dropping moment when you finally see through? That’s what happened to me reading The Double Bind. It’s clear going in that Laurel is unraveling, but we don’t suspect more than just her storyline. The book’s/author’s conceit gets wrapped up in what’s hidden and when it’s revealed it’s pretty powerful.

At least it was to me. Maybe others saw through all along, but I didn’t and the moment I finally realized what I was reading was powerful and I literally said wow, my husband looking over at me thinking, oh no, I’m going to have to talk about her book now. Some found the quotidian minutiae tedious, but I admit I didn’t notice. Each section of the narrative had something to advance the story or the reader’s knowledge; some of it hidden well enough that I missed it, but stayed interested and immersed.

For some strange reason I have no notes for this book (other than the ubiquitous character with gray eyes, something I’ve NEVER seen IRL, but I digress). One of the most enchanting and magical elements of the book is the fact that it seems that a real person inspired them. Bohjalian explains in an author’s note that he came to know about some photographs left behind in a shelter when a homeless man died. The photos were technically and artistically excellent and many were of famous people of the 50s and 60s. The man’s name was Bob “Soupy” Campbell and his actual photos are interspersed throughout the book. This fascinating mystery of how a seemingly successful photographer could become destitute was the impetus for The Double Bind. I have to applaud Bohjalian’s imagination and how much further he took the story than most writers probably would.

That’s about all I can say without giving away more. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Aug 14, 2015 |
Laurel Estabrook was a normal young lady, going to school and working until she got attacked while riding her bike along a path through some woods. After that ordeal she found it difficult to trust anyone and withdrew into herself. She found solace in working in a homeless shelter and losing herself in her photography. Then Bobbie Crocker arrives at the shelter. He is a secretive man with secrets of his own and a box of photographs he guards closely. Unfortunately Bobbie dies at the shelter and Laurel is given the task of going through the photographs to discover a little bit more about Bobbie. Laurel’s task takes Laurel (and the reader) back to the era of Gatsby and the roaring twenties. As Laurel discovers more about Bobbie and his life before becoming mentally ill and homeless, the reader discovers that maybe Laurel bears a few more scars from her attack than we are led to believe.

It’s difficult to even write a synopsis about the book without blaring “SPOILER ALERT” before every sentence. Suffice it to say that the twists and turns this book takes lead to a very surprising ending. Well worth the read.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 146 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chris Bohjalianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Denaker, SusanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Oh, I know who Pauline Kael is," he said. "I wasn't born homeless, you know."
Nick Hornby- A Long Way Down
For Rose Mary Muench and in memory of Frederick Meunch (1929-2004)
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Laurel Estabrook was nearly raped the fall of her sophomore year of college.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
After surviving an attack while biking, Vermont college student Laurel Estabrook decides to volunteer at a homeless shelter where she meets Bobbie Cocker, a mentally ill man who claims to have been an established photographer and whose life she becomes infatuated with.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0739341324, Audio CD)

Best known for the provocative and powerful novel, Midwives (an Oprah Book Club® Selection), Chris Bohjalian writes beautiful and riveting fiction featuring what the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed "ordinary people in heartbreaking circumstances behaving with grace and dignity." In his new novel, The Double Bind, a literary thriller with references to (and including characters from) The Great Gatsby, Bohjalian takes readers on a haunting journey through one woman's obsession with uncovering a dark secret. We think Bohjalian fans will be thrilled with this compelling and unforgettable read, but just to be sure, we asked bestselling author Jodi Picoult to read The Double Bind and give us her take. Check out her review below. --Daphne Durham

Guest Reviewer: Jodi Picoult

From the provocative and gut-wrenching The Pact, to the brilliant genre-bending The Tenth Circle, to her latest novel about a high school shooting Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult's riveting novels center on family and relationships, and bring to light questions and issues that remain with a reader long after the last page is turned.

I once heard a fellow novelist call writing "successful schizophrenia"--we invent people and worlds that don't exist; but instead of being medicated, we are paid for it. Although countless novels succeed in whisking the reader away on the heels of such fabrications, there are very few that pull the curtain away from the craft, allowing us inside the mind of a working novelist as he combines reality and fantasy. Chris Bohjalian's The Double Bind is not just one of these; it's the finest example I've ever read of a book that tips its hat to both the beauty of the literary creation, as well as the magical act of creating.

Fact and fiction become indistinguishable in The Double Bind: The story centers on Laurel Estabrook, a young social worker and survivor of a near-rape, who stumbles across photographs taken by a formerly homeless client and tries to understand how a man who'd taken snapshots of celebrities in the 50s and 60s might have wound up on the streets. However, an author's note tells us that Bohjalian conceived this book after being shown a batch of old photographs taken by a once-homeless man; and the actual photos of Bob "Soupy" Campbell are peppered throughout the text. In another neat twist, Bohjalian's resurrects details from The Great Gatsby, which become "real" in the context of his own novel--Laurel lives in West Egg; part of her hunt for her photographer's past involves meeting with the descendants of Daisy and Tom Buchanan.

As a writer who counts The Great Gatsby as one of the books that changed her life, this inclusion was both startling and remarkable for me. Who doesn't want one's favorite characters to come to life--even if it's only within the constraints of another fictional work? But Bohjalian chose his text wisely: no discussion of The Great Gatsby is complete without alluding to missed opportunities and unreliable sources--critical elements in Laurel's quest. And therein lies Bohjalian's true double bind: all stories--even the ones we tell ourselves--are subject to our own interpretation, and to the degree we can make others believe them.

The Double Bind may flirt with the classics, but it's not your father's stuffy old tome: it's the sort of book you want to read in one sitting, and it packs a twist at the end that will leave you speechless. It also, worthily, spotlights the cause of homelessness in a way that isn't preachy, but honest and explanatory. Ultimately, what Bohjalian's done is offer his lucky readers another reminder of why he's such an extraordinary author: by creating characters that become so real we lose the distinction between truth and embellishment; by reminding us that the story of any life--whether fictional, functional, or marginal--is one to be savored. --Jodi Picoult

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Working at a homeless shelter, Laurel Estabrook encounters Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of secret photos, but when Bobbie dies suddenly, Laurel embarks on an obsessive search for the truth behind the photos.

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