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Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz
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Strange Piece of Paradise (2006)

by Terri Jentz

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I agree with what many other reviewers here have said--this book could have been much shorter and might well have been better off remaining a private journal for the author. I can completely understand her quest to find the man who nearly killed her and her friend, but it seems like once she lands on the likeliest suspect she begins twisting any and all "evidence" she might find to fit her previously-decided-upon conclusion. She clings to the smallest, often unsubstantiated details and to hearsay evidence from a variety of people who were not even close to the crime when it was perpetrated, 15 years before she began her investigation. Jentz seems to have gotten what she wanted out of writing this book--a sense of closure--but I as a reader was left with far more questions than answers and a lingering concern that her prime suspect (whose name is changed in the book, thank goodness) may, through the vehicle of this story, have been tried in the court of public opinion and been found guilty--by the author, anyway--despite a total lack of hard evidence. I give this book two stars because I applaud Jentz's courage in facing a part of her life which obviously shook her very deeply, but there is just not enough substance to make a compelling narrative or, in my opinion, convince a reader that the crime has been deeply and objectively investigated and can now be laid to rest. ( )
  etbm2003 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Extremely detailed and interesting account

- Slow going at times, small print in hardback edition

In 1997, Terri Jentz and her bicycling companion "Shayna" were attacked in Cline Falls State Park near Redmond, Oregon. As they slept in their tent, an unknown assailant drove his truck on top of Terri, then attacked both young women with a hatchet. Fifteen years later, Terri returned to Oregon to investigate these events.

Some reviewers have faulted Jentz for what they see as repetition and a lack of editing. I believe that this criticism arises from an understandable misidentification of the book's genre. This is not a "true crime" story, in which it may be expected that the author would streamline events for a more concise narrative. Instead, it should be read as autobiography. At that, it is not autobiography in which the writing itself aspires to transparency; instead, the form of the narrative reitterates the preoccupations and mental state I associate with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Conversations are reviewed and details returned to multiple times. Small nuances are scrutinized and labored over. The theme of urgency and press to tell one's story recurs throughout. This is not to say that Jentz did not edit and highly structure this account. It's also clear that even at 542 pages of small type, the tale has been highly condensed and the emotion highly contained. Rather, I'm suggesting that reading Strange Piece of Paradise is very similar to listening to a friend (or psychotherapy client) over a long period of time, witnessing her striving to resolve a trauma born of inexplicable events.

Jentz, a highly effective and apparently quite counterphobic woman, does suppress emotion in the narrative, as she reports doing in her life. For me, the most emotionally engaging (and painful) sections of the book convey her deep longing for Shayna to join with her by witnessing their mutual experience, a testimony that the amnestic Shayna does not want to hear.

Jentz manages a multidimensional portrait of Oregon, capturing both the state's terrifying and engaging aspects. In some ways, this parallels her experience of the "meticulous cowboy" who attacked her, and who inspires her anger and, at times, her compassion.

( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
I read this book as an "assignment" by one of my daughters. I plowed through more pages than I would have otherwise. In the end I found this both heartening and disheartening. I have driven all those Oregon highways many times and am now struck by what little we know of what goes on in any area. I am struck by (not for the first time) of man's inhumanity to both man and animal. And while I am not a naive, I was shocked by the atrocities perpetrated by men, on women. ( )
  elsyd | Jun 6, 2011 |
True memoir of woman going back to Oregon to find who assaulted her as a young woman. Julia's recommendation. Hard to read, brutal in parts, but well written and transforming. ( )
  TracyBooks | May 11, 2010 |
A little long but very interesting story if you like true crime. ( )
  stellaphant | Mar 7, 2009 |
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Epigraph
They make us parents want to keep our children


Locked up, safe even from the daily papers

That keep the grisly record of that frontier

Where things unspeakable happen along the highways.

In today's paper, you see the teen-aged girl

From down the street; camping in Oregon

At the far point of a trip across the country,


Together with another girl her age,

They suffered and survived a random evil.

-Robert Pinsky, An Explanation of America
Dedication
For Donna, who saw me through.
First words
Poised on that twilight edge between life and death, I felt intimately the part of me that was flesh, and I knew also that I was something more.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374134987, Hardcover)

In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, make a cross-country bike trip. They pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they are sleeping, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an ax. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, but Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with memories of the attack. Their friendship is shattered.

Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits she will make “to solve the crime that would solve me.” And she makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Slowly, her extensive interviews with the townspeople yield a terrifying revelation: many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth about the crime and its aftermath, and to come to terms with the wounds that broke her life into a before and an after. Ultimately she finds herself face-to-face with the alleged axman.
 
Powerful, eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers, Strange Piece of Paradise is the electrifying account of Terri’s investigation into the mystery of her near murder. A startling profile of a psychopath, a sweeping reflection on violence and the myth of American individualism, and a moving record of a brave inner journey from violence to hope, this searing, unforgettable work is certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:40 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, make a cross-country bike trip. They pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they are sleeping, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an ax. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, but Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with memories of the attack. Their friendship is shattered." "Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits she will make "to solve the crime that would solve me." And she makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Slowly, her extensive interviews with the townspeople yield a terrifying revelation: many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth about the crime and its aftermath, and to come to terms with the wounds that broke her life into a before and an after. Ultimately she finds herself face-to-face with the alleged axman."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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