Books March 2001

New & Noteworthy

More

In her ninth novel Pat Barker, who searingly depicted World War I and its psychological casualties in the Regeneration trilogy, again explores the uses—and the illusions—of professional detachment along with the question of whether the rational can cope with the ugliest of realities. Much as she sculpted her trenches with bones sticking out of the mud and corpses propping up walls, in Border Crossing she evokes the smoke, the staleness, and the insecurity of probation offices and remand centers. As the protagonist, Tom Seymour, a psychiatrist, teases out the history of his patient Danny (or is Danny doing all the teasing?), Barker creates a sense of menace worthy of Ian McEwan.

Barker has far more faith in drama and image than in assertion. The reader is grateful whenever she offers any alleviating comedy. When Tom visits Danny's old writing teacher, he is forced to attend a mortifying literary evening: "Expecting a literary lion (male), obliged to make do with one small tabby cat (female), the groupies sank deeper into the sofa, a single, disgruntled heap." One character in Regeneration says with a laugh, "You want perception, you go to a novelist, not a psychiatrist." Border Crossing is replete with sharp, expressive exchanges, hard poetry, and as many enigmas as implacable truths.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

An Eerie Tour of Chernobyl's Wasteland

"Do not touch the water. There is nothing more irradiated than the water itself."


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In