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Trauma Hardcover – 1 June 2008
- Publisher : Bloomsbury; 1st edition (1 June 2008)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0747594082
- ISBN-13 : 978-0747594086
- Dimensions : 20.3 x 25.4 x 4.7 cm
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Essentially then, there is no dramatic shift in subject matter or style for McGrath in Trauma, with a flawed or unreliable narrator (this one being a psychiatrist who obviously has a tendency to be over-analytical of others' motives and behaviour), and clashes between rational analysis and sexual passions, between seemingly rational-minded individuals and artistic creative geniuses - so it's not just Asylum that comes to mind here, but also Port Mungo.
What is different in Trauma, and confirmed in the author's previous (fabulous) collection of three short novellas Ghost Town, is the growing influence and importance of living in New York that is playing a greater part in McGrath's work, the author managing to channel both the passionate seething of life with the isolating factors and anonymity of living there. Slowly but surely then, the depictions of madness in McGrath books is extending from the individual to the collective madness of America, without losing any of the riveting personal drama of his work.
That said - I enjoyed this very much, got caught up in the spiral and felt a genuine compassion for the pained and twisted lives involved here. McGrath, even if it feels like slightly rote McGrath, is an extraordinary writer - so far incapable of publishing something weak. If you are new to his brooding, shadowed novels, you might want to start with Spider, Dr. Haggard, or Asylum, but this is very, very good. Not for those who need blood and gore to be chilled, this is powerful, morose and understated. And moving.
Of course, making cheap jokes on crazy mental health professionals is easy, as is making broad camp caricature. What Patrick McGrath does here is so much more subtle. Of course, with this author, you never know just how self deceiving or malicious his narrator may be, so CAREFUL reading is in order. Still, his tale is compassionate and actually teaches us something about empathy and compassion while his characters blunder towards that dreamed of state of grace.
I hope you haven't read too many plot descriptions as this is a story best told by Patrick McGrath himself. This is a great read.