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The Folded Worldby Amity Gaige
Synopses & Reviews
September 2007 Booksense Notable
Acclaimed for her excquisite prose and crystalline insights, Amity Gaige returns with The Folded World, the story of an idealistic young social worker drawn into the lives of his mentally ill clients. Charlie Shade was born into a quiet, prosperous life, but a sense of injustice dogs him. He feels destined to leave his life of "bread and laundry," to work instead with people in crisis. On his way, he meets his kindred spirit in Alice, a soulful young woman, living helplessly by laws of childhood superstition. Charlie's empathy with his clients — troubled souls like Hal, the high-school wrestling champion who undergoes a psychotic break, and Opal, the isolated young woman who claims "various philosophies have confused my life" — is both admirable and nearly fatal. An adoring husband and new father, Charlie risks his own cherished, private domestic world to help Hal, Opal, and others move beyond their haunted inner worlds into the larger world of love and connection.
A collision of extraordinary characters, The Folded World addresses the universal dilemma of love, wherein giving to another can seem like "the death of the world of oneself." With an unerring eye for both the joys and devastations of life, Amity Gaige once again reminds us of the pleasures and depths to be found in her fiction.
"Gaige follows up on the 2006 National Book Foundation '5 Under 35' selection O My Darling with a measured account of a mildly troubled marriage and the hurdles faced by well-meaning social caseworkers. Gorgeous and dark-haired Alice Bussard, the 22-year-old daughter of a librarian, leaves 'shabby' hometown Gloucester, Mass., to find bigger and better in a nearby (and unnamed) city. What she finds, however, is a job as a dentist's receptionist and the attention of 25-year-old, big-eared Midwestern transplant Charlie Shade, who is finishing his master's in social work. Before long, they're married and Charlie's found an underpaid and overworked job. They have twins, and Charlie's dedication to his work — and two patients, Hal Kramer and Opal Ludlow, specifically — sparks domestic tension (Alice is predictably tempted by another man), professional trouble and physical danger. Alice's mother comes to help with the kids, but ends up sharing with Alice the truth Alice would rather not hear about the father she never knew. Gaige's sophomore effort is polished and competent, with measured doses of dry humor leavening overwrought prose . Details about the mechanisms of the social work system are convincing, as is Gaige's portrayal of a young marriage on the rocks, but the narrative may be too tidy for some." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Acclaimed author Gaige returns with this story of an idealistic young social worker drawn into the lives of his mentally ill clients, revealing the joys and devastations of life.
About the Author
Amity Gaige is a graduate of Brown University and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. She is the author of the acclaimed novel O My Darling, chosen by the National Book Foundation for its "5 Under 35" program to recognize the achievements of five first-time fiction writers each year. She teaches creative writing at Mount Holyoke College and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit her website at www.amitygaige.com.
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