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Strange Piece of Paradise

by

Strange Piece of Paradise Cover

 

Staff Pick

I almost never read true crime books, and I'm not that fond of memoirs, either. But Terri Jentz transcends both those genres with her riveting story and elegant language. Mesmerizing, terrifying, and occasionally downright surreal, Strange Piece of Paradise, despite its length, is almost impossible to put down.
Recommended by Tessa, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"The author was a Yale student biking cross-country during the summer of 1977 when she and her roommate were attacked by an axe-wielding cowboy while camping in Oregon. Jentz escaped with a gashed arm, while her friend was nearly blinded from head injuries. Fifteen years later, in 1992, Jentz returns to the scene of the attack to repair the psychic wound and attempt to close the case. Dogged in her pursuit of the truth (though largely abandoning the subtitle's promise of introspection), Jentz interviews the witnesses who saw her stumble out of Cline Falls State Park that June night; she scrutinizes police files and discovers the halfhearted investigation of suspects, learning about several horrific killings that took place in Oregon then. Jentz even befriends the former girlfriends of one suspect who becomes frighteningly plausible as the culprit. She finally tracks down the local cowboy known for carving his initials into his axe handle; though he can no longer be prosecuted for the attack, the satisfaction of seeing him convicted for another offense is a bittersweet vindication. While a thorough, forthright detective, screenwriter Jentz tends to meander and includes unnecessary detail. Still, her story is chilling and will enthrall true crime readers." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Strange Piece of Paradise is a haunting, lyrical journey through one woman's nightmare. Terri Jentz's debut is harrowing, gripping and poignant. The impact lingers long after the final page is turned." Harlan Coben, author of No Second Chance

Review:

"In this memoir Terri Jentz grapples with the deep subconscious of America, as well as its flesh and blood. Her writing has the weirdness and gravitas and beauty of life." Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir

Review:

"An extraordinary story about the scars of the spirit and how they heal, Jentz's epic American journey is both heart-rending and heartening, devastating and redemptive." Melanie Thernstrom, author of Halfway Heaven

Review:

"The strongest parts of Jentz's story...are the connections she forged with her newfound allies — women who were beaten and abused...police officers who lived in the community and dealt with violence daily, and who genuinely wanted to bring closure to an old case." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Part true crime, part memoir, part a profile of a stone-cold psychopath and part an exploration of violence and its effect on people and communities, Jentz's book is tough to read — and even tougher to put down." USA Today

Review:

"As if to perform reconstructive surgery on her psyche...Jentz returns to the scene of the crime to conduct an epic investigation as shadowed in grief and as stricken by violence as Truman Capote's Kansas in In Cold Blood." Vanity Fair

Review:

"The author is meticulous about detail....An emotional piece of investigative work." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"No one will be the same after reading this brilliant book. It is transformative in the best way, soul changing, with the promise of altering a culture that far too often aims toward and glorifies destruction." Susan Griffin, author of A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist)

Synopsis:

Powerful and fast paced, this is the electrifying account of Jentz's investigation into the mystery of her near murder. A startling profile of a psychopath, and a moving record of a brave inner journey, this unforgettable work is certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Synopsis:

Powerful, eloquent, and paced like a thriller, Strange Piece of Paradise is the electrifying account of the authors investigation into her near murder.

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate took a cross-country bike trip. As they lay sleeping in the central Oregon desert, a man in a pickup truck deliberately ran over their tent and proceeded to attack them with an axe. The horrific crime was reported in newspapers across the country, but no one was ever arrested. Fifteen years later, Jentz returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered and makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Shockingly, many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst.

 

Powerful, eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers, Strange Piece of Paradise is a startling profile of a psychopath, a sweeping reflection on violence and the myth of American individualism, and a moving record of Jentz's brave inner journey from violence to hope.

About the Author

Terri Jentz is a screenwriter and lives in Los Angeles. This is her first book.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 12 comments:

monysmom, May 20, 2007 (view all comments by monysmom)
Amazing story about a woman who tried to "push down" the fact that when she was in college in 1977 someone tried to murder her by running her over with a truck and chopping her with an ax while she was biking across country. She goes back to the "scene of the crime" and digs and digs to find answers, ultimately to find herself looking in the face of the man who tried to murder her friend and her.
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(5 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
jmpetz, May 14, 2007 (view all comments by jmpetz)
After finishing this book, of all day's on Mother's Day, I felt compelled to send a comment. Terri is an inspiration of strength. It is amazing that such Evil exists, but the empathy and goodness Terri found in Boo, DeeDee, the nurses, and others is an extraordinary show of power and love.
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(6 of 12 readers found this comment helpful)
Shoshana, January 25, 2007 (view all comments by Shoshana)
+ 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.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780374134983
Author:
Jentz, Terri
Publisher:
Macmillan Audio
Author:
Colin, Margaret
Subject:
Other Miscellaneous Crimes
Subject:
Criminal investigation
Subject:
Violent crimes
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
BIO026000
Subject:
Women's Studies
Subject:
General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
May 2, 2006
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Language:
English
Illustrations:
7 CDs, 9 hours
Pages:
752
Dimensions:
8.31 x 5.45 x 1.3 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Crime » General

Strange Piece of Paradise Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 752 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374134983 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I almost never read true crime books, and I'm not that fond of memoirs, either. But Terri Jentz transcends both those genres with her riveting story and elegant language. Mesmerizing, terrifying, and occasionally downright surreal, Strange Piece of Paradise, despite its length, is almost impossible to put down.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The author was a Yale student biking cross-country during the summer of 1977 when she and her roommate were attacked by an axe-wielding cowboy while camping in Oregon. Jentz escaped with a gashed arm, while her friend was nearly blinded from head injuries. Fifteen years later, in 1992, Jentz returns to the scene of the attack to repair the psychic wound and attempt to close the case. Dogged in her pursuit of the truth (though largely abandoning the subtitle's promise of introspection), Jentz interviews the witnesses who saw her stumble out of Cline Falls State Park that June night; she scrutinizes police files and discovers the halfhearted investigation of suspects, learning about several horrific killings that took place in Oregon then. Jentz even befriends the former girlfriends of one suspect who becomes frighteningly plausible as the culprit. She finally tracks down the local cowboy known for carving his initials into his axe handle; though he can no longer be prosecuted for the attack, the satisfaction of seeing him convicted for another offense is a bittersweet vindication. While a thorough, forthright detective, screenwriter Jentz tends to meander and includes unnecessary detail. Still, her story is chilling and will enthrall true crime readers." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Strange Piece of Paradise is a haunting, lyrical journey through one woman's nightmare. Terri Jentz's debut is harrowing, gripping and poignant. The impact lingers long after the final page is turned."
"Review" by , "In this memoir Terri Jentz grapples with the deep subconscious of America, as well as its flesh and blood. Her writing has the weirdness and gravitas and beauty of life."
"Review" by , "An extraordinary story about the scars of the spirit and how they heal, Jentz's epic American journey is both heart-rending and heartening, devastating and redemptive."
"Review" by , "The strongest parts of Jentz's story...are the connections she forged with her newfound allies — women who were beaten and abused...police officers who lived in the community and dealt with violence daily, and who genuinely wanted to bring closure to an old case."
"Review" by , "Part true crime, part memoir, part a profile of a stone-cold psychopath and part an exploration of violence and its effect on people and communities, Jentz's book is tough to read — and even tougher to put down."
"Review" by , "As if to perform reconstructive surgery on her psyche...Jentz returns to the scene of the crime to conduct an epic investigation as shadowed in grief and as stricken by violence as Truman Capote's Kansas in In Cold Blood."
"Review" by , "The author is meticulous about detail....An emotional piece of investigative work."
"Review" by , "No one will be the same after reading this brilliant book. It is transformative in the best way, soul changing, with the promise of altering a culture that far too often aims toward and glorifies destruction." Susan Griffin, author of A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist)
"Synopsis" by , Powerful and fast paced, this is the electrifying account of Jentz's investigation into the mystery of her near murder. A startling profile of a psychopath, and a moving record of a brave inner journey, this unforgettable work is certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.
"Synopsis" by ,
Powerful, eloquent, and paced like a thriller, Strange Piece of Paradise is the electrifying account of the authors investigation into her near murder.
"Synopsis" by ,
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.

"Synopsis" by ,
In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate took a cross-country bike trip. As they lay sleeping in the central Oregon desert, a man in a pickup truck deliberately ran over their tent and proceeded to attack them with an axe. The horrific crime was reported in newspapers across the country, but no one was ever arrested. Fifteen years later, Jentz returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered and makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Shockingly, many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst.

 

Powerful, eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers, Strange Piece of Paradise is a startling profile of a psychopath, a sweeping reflection on violence and the myth of American individualism, and a moving record of Jentz's brave inner journey from violence to hope.

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