Monday, October 23, 2006

trauma bonding...

...refers to the relationship formed between perpetrator and victim in violent attacks. I have been working on reading this book forever--not sure why its taken me so long--because it Really IS an interesting read--maybe just takes a lot of contemplation: Strange Piece of Paradise: A Return to the American West to Investigate my Attempted Murder--and Solve the Riddle of Myself by Terri Jentz.
here's the blurb from the front flap:
In the summer of 1977 Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, are on a cross-country bike trip, they pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they sleep, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an axe. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. Robert Pinsky describes it it in his book length poem, An Explanation of America. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, But Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with the memories of the attack.
Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits "to solve the crime that would solve me." She makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. And 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 with the suspected axeman.
Absorbing and 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 vivid portrait of a small town, a sweeping reflection on violence and its acceptance in our culture, and a moving record of a brave inner journey from violence to hope, this searing, powerfully written book is certain to be unforgettable.

Some reviews have mentioned that Jentz talks about every thought she has, does too much "navel gazing" while she goes through her process of investigation, but for me that is part of its appeal. It is an examination of our culture's fascination with violence of the workings (or perhaps disfunctionality) of our justice system, of the many varied ways that we can react to traumatic events--both those that happen to us personally, or just impact our community. This book really had me thinking about the nature of violence, the nature of justice, and perhaps most of all--our almost hypnotic, consumptive thirst for blood and gore (the 364s as they are called in my world--although that is not where this book is shelved--and i'm not sure it would really appeal to the "true crime" audience per se--and it doesn't seem to be marketed as such). I wouldn't call it fast-paced (nor exactly "riveting") but it is fascinating and i would highly recommend it--as i said-a contemplative work.

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