The Double Bind

The Double Bind In Chris Bohjalian s astonishing novel nothing is what it at first seems Not the bucolic Vermont back roads college sopho Laurel Estabrook likes to bike Not the savage assault she suffers toward the

  • Title: The Double Bind
  • Author: Chris Bohjalian
  • ISBN: 9781400047468
  • Page: 330
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In Chris Bohjalian s astonishing novel, nothing is what it at first seems Not the bucolic Vermont back roads college sopho Laurel Estabrook likes to bike Not the savage assault she suffers toward the end of one of her rides And certainly not Bobbie Crocker, the elderly man with a history of mental illness whom Laurel comes to know through her work at a Burlington hoIn Chris Bohjalian s astonishing novel, nothing is what it at first seems Not the bucolic Vermont back roads college sopho Laurel Estabrook likes to bike Not the savage assault she suffers toward the end of one of her rides And certainly not Bobbie Crocker, the elderly man with a history of mental illness whom Laurel comes to know through her work at a Burlington homeless shelter in the years subsequent to the attack.In his moments of lucidity, the gentle, likable Bobbie alludes to his earlier life as a successful photographer Laurel finds it hard to believe that this destitute, unstable man could once have chronicled the lives of musicians and celebrities, but a box of photographs and negatives discovered among Bobbie s meager possessions after his death lends credence to his tale How could such an accomplished man have fallen on such hard times Becoming obsessed with uncovering Bobbie s past, Laurel studies his photographs, tracking down every lead they provide into the mystery of his life before homelessness including links to the rich neighborhoods of her own Long Island childhood and to the earlier world of F Scott Fitzgerald s The Great Gatsby, with its larger than life characters, elusive desires, and haunting sorrows.In a narrative of dazzling invention, literary ingenuity, and psychological complexity, Bohjalian engages issues of homelessness and mental illness by evoking the humanity that inhabits the core of both At the same time, his tale is fast paced and riveting The Double Bind combines the suspense of a thriller with the emotional depths of the most intimate drama The breathtaking surprises of its final pages will leave readers stunned, overwhelmed by the poignancy of life s fleeting truths, as caught in Bobbie Crocker s photographs and in Laurel Estabrook s painful pursuit of Bobbie s past and her own Behind The Double BindWhile Bobbie Crocker, the photographer in The Double Bind, is fictitious, the photographs that appear in the book are real They were taken by a man named Bob Soupy Campbell, who, as Chris Bohaljian explains in his Author s Note, had gone from photographing luminaries from the 1950s and 1960s to winding up at a homeless shelter in northern Vermont Bohaljian s viewing of Campbell s work after the photographer s death provided an inspiration for The Double Bind We tend to stigmatize the homeless and blame them for their plight, Bohjalian writes We are oblivious to the fact that most had lives as serious as our own before everything fell apart The photographs in this book are a testimony to that reality.

    One thought on “The Double Bind”

    1. Bohjalian has written a dizzying portrayal of a young social worker, Laurel, searching for the truth behind the life of one of the homeless men she meets at the shelter where she works in Burlington. After his death, she finds his beloved cache of photographs that leads her to suspect that Bobbie Crocker was, in fact, Bobbie Buchanan, son of Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Reaching out to the one remaining Buchanan, Pamela - Bobbie’s sister, she finds herself, and the shelter she works for, embroiled [...]

    2. Offensively bad. Poorly written and/or poorly edited -- likely both -- oh dear crap, it was awful. Overwritten. Stupid. Carelessly written. Used the word "dowager" at least five hundred times -- so much that I laughed out loud and wished I'd made a drinking game of it. And it was UNNECESSARY. Who edited this? Who allowed "epoxied" to stand in for "glued" three times on three consecutive pages in totally needless contexts? Who greenlighted "dowager" so many damn times? Who decided to refer to Lau [...]

    3. 3 ½ stars Tough one to describe - you've got a rape victim, the mystery surrounding a homeless man and "The Great Gatsby" all mixed inntal illness a big part of it and there’s this weird blurring of reality and fiction, guess I’ll tag it physiological suspense. A survival mechanism, we all do it, avoid confronting problems by throwing our energy into just about anything else - ah the tantalizing lure of distraction. Physically healed but with psychological wounds to painful to confront“So [...]

    4. I really wanted to like this book, as I found the premise fascinating. The execution, though, was so weak that it was almost unbearable to force my way through the entire book.The story centers on Laurel, who survived a brutal attack as a young college student. She graduates from college, dates older men, and works at a homeless shelter, where she comes across a man named Bobbie, who carries with him a mysterious box of photographs. Laurel becomes obsessed with the photographs and with figuring [...]

    5. Notice there are no stars associated with this review. If only there was a choice for black hole. This book was dreadful. Horrible. Awful. A few years ago I read his "Midwives", which I really liked, so I thought I'd like this too. Wrong! It is billed as a "literary thriller". Oh, really? I swear, the suspense and thrills are more elegantly crafted in an average episode of Scooby Doo than in this piece of crap book. And literary?? I think it was poorly written. It drove me to distraction the way [...]

    6. I figured out the supposed "twist" as soon as I read the psychiatrist's notes. The effort taken to write them as genderless came off as odd and clunky. The whole thing came off to me as disjointed and in need of editing. There were some glaring mistakes--a child eating a caramel apple is described as having made a mess with it and it being red like blood all over her face and handsum, caramel is BROWN. Everyone is described, even right in the middle of dialogue where we know all of their names, [...]

    7. I just noticed I didn't write a review on "The Double Bind".How did that happen? I must have either read it before I joined --or was such a 'newbie-' member --I just didn't write reviews yet.I've told dozens of people to read this. I've bought this book as a gift several times ---its THAT GOOD!!! Completely unforgettable --I 'could' write much more about this story --but some books are best knowing very little about --and just trusting you'll have an 'extraordinary' reading experience. "Laurel [...]

    8. Audiobook performed by Susan DenakerFrom the book jacket When college sophomore Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont’s back roads, her life is forever changed. Formerly outgoing, Laurel withdraws into her photography and begins to work at a homeless shelter. There she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man with a history of mental illness and a box of photographs he won’t let anyone see. When Bobbie dies, Laurel discovers that he was telling the truth; before he was hom [...]

    9. I stayed interested throughout which says something. But it did get pretty repetitive at times. Maybe this is necessary for a book that's told from the perspective of a delusional person?I am thankful that I watched The Great Gatsby recently otherwise I would've been lost on all the references and would've given up. And the photographs were very cool. I am usually suspicious of male writers who try to write from women's perspectives. Especially because Bohjalian is a middle-aged author writing f [...]

    10. I would highly recommend this book to all book clubbers out there, because after you read it, you just want to talk to someone else who's read it. Kind of like after seeing the movie the Sixth Sense. There is a prerequisite that comes with this novel and that is to read or re-read The Great Gatsby. This is a must in order to understand all the references and parallels with Fitzgerald's novel. Bohjalian brings the characters from The Great Gatsby to life. From reading the other reviews of The Dou [...]

    11. This is a very creative premise but egregiously flawed. Most of this book chronicles an investigation that the main character is conducting that links an old box of photos with a homeless man, her own troubled past, and The Great Gatsby. She was a lot more interested in where this all was leading than I was. I was sort of lazily interested in the Gatsby thread because I just read it, but the rest of it was so repetitive and tiresome I could only read 5-10 pages at a time. I did not like the main [...]

    12. Laurel Estabrook, a social worker at a homeless shelter in Burlington, Vermont finds herself caught in the middle of case. Bobbie Crocker, a homeless man that came into her shelter, passes away, leaving behind a collection of pictures- pictures that have been in Life magazine and pictures of famous people, and places. Including the infamous home on West Egg that once belonged to Jay Gatsby! Yes, you read that right, this novel incorporates one version of an aftermath scenario of The Great Gatsby [...]

    13. If you were to write a book with the same themes as The Great Gatsby, but set it today, what would it look like? What archetypes would you pick to represent the lost, lonely people? The man who tries to live the American dream but at the end finds himself staring at the light he can never reach? The woman who tells herself stories about who she is and how she got where she was only to help avoid the truth of the horror of her life? The death of the American Dream, and its salvation in the ordina [...]

    14. The first thing I did before I started this book was head to and read a summary of The Great Gatsby, since it’s been 12+ years since I read it, and it’s really an integral part of this book. I recommend that to anyone who picks this up.I often start thinking about what I’m going to say about a book before I finish it. As I neared the end of this, my thoughts were “this wasn’t as good as Midwives or Water Witches“. Then, Bohjalian gives you a very M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist that [...]

    15. Although I am familiar with Chris Bohjalian, the title caught my eye. I was told (by an editor who recently read about 80 pages of my novel--in-progress), that the mother of my POV character was a classic case of the Double Bind personality. I had not heard of this before. (Google it to discover what it is -- or read this book!) In part, the editor was correct, but, of course, not having read the whole book, she couldn't make a definite assessment. It was helpful, though. As was this book -- in [...]

    16. I am absolutely stunned!! This book was amazing. I was immediately drawn in and intrigued from the start of it. I have worked in psychiatry as a registered nurse as well as enjoy reading books about mental health, so this book was right up my alley. I have read The Great Gatsby, and I think because I have read that, I was able to get so much more out of reading this one.

    17. This is the sixth book of Chris Bohjalian I have read, and I found the others to be quite good. Perhaps his prose wasn't as gorgeous as some writers, but his stories were gripping, and I turned the pages quickly, (which, if you think about it, is the main reason we want to read a book!). Tran-sister Radio was fascinating and sensitive. I read The Law of Similars in a weekend. Before You Know Kindness was complex and compelling. But despite the pull of the mysteriously wonderful photos that seem [...]

    18. There were moments where I thought this books was really stupid. The main character was so dramatic at times, the plot seemed like it was trying to be more than it was only b/c the author was making the main character make such a big deal out of minimal things. Turns out there was a reason for that. You don't find out until the very end (which you can predict near the end). The entire thing is explained on the last pages because it has to be completely written out, otherwise it's a book that is [...]

    19. I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and had no idea that there was a surprise twist at the end. As a mystery, I didn't feel it was very compelling, but aside from that the story was definitely interesting enough to keep me engaged. A quick refresher of The Great Gatsby on is a good idea if you read this book, as its characters appear in The Double Bind as well.I thought that they were well-integrated into the book, and it was definitely an innovative idea on the part of the auth [...]

    20. SPOILERS!!I really enjoyed this book until the end. But not only did I find the end annoying, it also seemed to flaw the rest book for me.Let’s start with why the ending was annoying. If you’ve read the book- you already know. Surprise- essentially the entire book you just read was a figment of the character’s imagination. Come on, now- really? Shouldn’t they teach that in Writers 101- skip the whole “dream sequence” / imaginary stuff- it’s too simple not to mention super annoying. [...]

    21. REWVIEW:Throughout his career, Chris Bohjalian has earned a reputation for writing novels that examine some of the most important issues of our time. With Midwives, he explored the literal and metaphoric place of birth in our culture. In The Buffalo Soldier, he introduced us to one of contemporary literature’s most beloved foster children. And in Before You Know Kindness, he plumbed animal rights, gun control, and what it means to be a parent. Chris Bohjalian’s riveting fiction keeps us awak [...]

    22. Are you KIDDING?! Manipulative trash. Badly written, badly edited, needlessly confusing, lifeless trash; yet this is the worst kind of book – a bad book that you have to keep reading to find out what happens. Some of the premise behind this book might be interesting if it had been handled differently. It could be interesting to have fictional characters from a classic novel (in this case, “The Great Gatsby”) appear as non-fictional characters in a work of fiction. Or, it could be interesti [...]

    23. This novel is intriguing, heartbreaking and beautiful. Starting with a violent act, the story takes us through the life of the victim Lauren, a privileged young adult who has since dedicated her life to helping the homeless. After the death of a homeless man named Bobbie, Lauren's life intertwines with the descendants of Tom and Daisy Buchanan in present day. Bobbies only known legacy is a box of secretive photographs and negatives. Lauren recognizes the homes in the photographs from her childho [...]

    24. I reached page 155 in this novel, and I have decided not to continue. The protagonist, Laurel, is not compelling; the writing is unnecessarily adjectivey; the use of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, from The Great Gatsby, as characters in this novel feels tricked up; and one of the puzzles -- the "true" identity of a deceased homeless man -- is solved early and too easily for this reader's taste.I understand, from reading other reviews in , that I'm passing up a twist ending by abandoning this book now. [...]

    25. I struggled with the rating on this bookarted off intriguing and captured my interest however moved slowly from then on; conversations that took place seemed unrealistic and not likely to provide info so readily and easily. However, that being said, the book managed to take a turn and a twist, recapturing my attention. Overall a-good storyline just needed a little more development. Delighted with the ending as I had to reflect back to see how the pieces came together.

    26. How do I put into words this book? Wowholy crapIm still in awe of it. I wanted to say this is a 5 star book, simply Im still shocked by it and really cant say all that I feel. I may change my review later but as it stands 4 1/2 stars.

    27. Rarely do I re read a book. This was well worth my time and was no less satisfying the 2nd time around. (I must have read it several years back, and though it was familiar I could not recall the ending until I got there) I was not as in love with Bohjalians "The Guest Room" as I have been with others of his, so I went back to one of his earlier books. This may be my favorite, next to "The Sandcastle Girls." He creates such wonderful and rich characters, and this story kept me turning pagesor sin [...]

    28. Because I loved "The Thirteenth Tale" my contact at Barnes and Noble was sure I would like this book by Bohjalian. He had heard the two books had many things in common. Unfortunately, they don't. Fortunately, I moderately liked this one for much different reasons. As others have written in their reviews, this book was not edited with any real sense of purpose or aid. It lacked for a skilled edit job here and there.(This review contains no spoilers of any serious degree).However, the author does [...]

    29. This book finally pushed me into action, in that from now on my friends, I'll being giving one or no star to books which have verbally abusive language towards women. Authors who would not use the "n" word have no compunction in using the most vile language to attack women verbally. This book exceeds on that account and one may say that it was not gratuitous, but Bohjalian was overzealous in his use. Yes, it served a purpose as being part of the horrendous act of rape, but he could have used le [...]

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