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Trauma [Kindle Edition]

Patrick Mcgrath
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Charlie Weir is a man who tackles other people's demons for a living. He has seen every kind of trauma during his years as a psychiatrist in New York.Yet he hasn't found a way of resolving his own conflicts, particularly the fatal mistake that caused his wife and daughter to leave him condemning him to corrosive loneliness and restless anger.Years later, he meets a beautiful but damaged woman who promises to restore his dwindling faith in both his profession and himself. But as he realizes that she has become more of a patient than a lover, events conspire to send him reeling toward the abyss. Addictive and enthralling, Trauma is Patrick McGrath's most riveting work to date.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

McGrath (Port Mungo) manipulates reader expectations expertly in this sharp-edged psychological study of a man deluded by his personal demons. Charlie Weir, a Manhattan psychiatrist, applies the life skills the members of his badly dysfunctional family have helped him hone to counseling patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. While everyone else he knows appears in danger of spinning out of orbit, Charlie exudes the calmness and confidence of a man in control of his circumstances. But he's unable to connect emotionally with the women in his life, and he repeatedly revisits his memory of the suicide of his ex-wife's brother, who was also one of his patients. With painstaking precision, McGrath drives this story to a climactic, if hastily resolved, moment of self-revelation in which Charlie uncovers a forgotten personal trauma that has perverted his perceptions and made him the most unreliable of narrators. Notwithstanding these efforts to give Charlie's tale the jolt of a psychological thriller, this is a haunting story of a man in the grip of a painful and beautifully articulated spiritual malaise. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“McGrath at his dark-hearted best.” —O, The Oprah Magazine“Beautifully crafted and paced, Trauma [is] either a superb psychological thriller or a masterly evocation of modern alienation and despair. . . . A terrific literary entertainment, one that will keep you on edge.” —The Washington Post “Full of sensitive, well-observed touches [and] elegant when it needs to be. . . . McGrath makes us see that our own minds are the most haunted of houses.” —Los Angeles Times“Ambitious. . . . McGrath uses his potent storytelling powers to draw us into [his narrator's] fevered brain and convey his emotional distress.” —The New York Times"The inversion of roles, the blurring of the boundaries between the rational and the irrational, the violence, the twisted sexual passions, the slipperiness of memory: these are familiar themes in McGrath's fiction. Here they are recombined in powerful and imaginative ways. Trauma is a gripping psychological thriller. McGrath's prose is taut and lean; his way with characters is deft; and his explorations of the dark side of human nature are disturbing. And at the novel's centre, the descent of its narrator from a false sense of superiority into a pit of madness and despair is handled with great skill." —Andrew Scull, The Times Literary Supplement“Tortuous, often gripping…The novel is aptly titled, since trauma can be said to be the origin and the end of its insidiously uncoiling developments.” —Sven Birkerts, The New York Times Book Review“A haunting story of a man in the grip of a painful and beautifully articulated spiritual malaise.” —Publishers Weekly


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 290 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 140004166X
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015DWL1C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,669 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm running on empty here." April 6, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Patrick McGrath's "Trauma," is the story of Charlie Weir, a psychiatrist in dire need of his own team of mental health experts. Charlie is a first person narrator whose statements may or may not be entirely accurate. One fact is incontrovertible: His grim childhood living in a dysfunctional household on New York's Upper West Side has permanently scarred him. Charlie's mother was a heavy drinker who was prone to fits of depression; his father, Fred, who was shiftless and abusive, abandoned the family when Charlie was around eight; his older brother, Walt, still treats him with thinly veiled hostility and condescension. Charlie, who specializes in trauma, treats war veterans, victims of sexual abuse, and individuals who have suffered a terrible shock that leaves them crippled because of disturbing symptoms (such as nightmares and flashbacks) that do not diminish over time. Much to his chagrin, Charlie gradually realizes that he is harboring a long-buried secret that continues to haunt him. Even a doctor may unintentionally falsify memories and omit certain events from his psychological landscape because they are too painful to bear.

The author uses flashbacks from the 1970's to set up the conflicts that form the novel's core. During the seventies, Charlie lectured a resentful Walt about his neglect of their mother, who clearly favored her older son. Charlie has managed to wreck his marriage to Agnes, whose brother, an emotionally damaged Vietnam War veteran, had been one of Charlie's patients. Now that he is divorced and living alone, the only bright light in Charlie's life is his daughter, Cassie, whom he sees once a week. As he approaches forty, he fears that his isolation from meaningful human contact may be a sign that he is as deeply troubled as his patients.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Mcgrath chiller April 9, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A cynical psychologist of my acquaintance referred to one of his colleagues who'd had several suicides among his patients as "double 0 seven- He has a license to kill!"
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.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It is always happening now, for the first time." April 12, 2008
Format:Hardcover
McGrath has created an evocative, shadowed mystery all the more compelling for the fact that it is born in childhood experience, young Charlie Weir the heir of a dysfunctional family that ultimately casts him in the role of caretaker. With parents that lash out at one another and a gregarious brother who seeks his identity outside their troubled home, Charlie is the de facto caretaker of his alcoholic, depressed mother, who pens somewhat successful mysteries in her later years, ever praising older son, Walt, a successful artist, while denigrating Charlie's efforts to bring a modicum of peace and order to his mother's self-destructive days. While Fred Weir abandons his family for a younger woman and a wasted life of philandering, Charlie is the only one willing to step into the breech and protect the family from complete disintegration. It is no surprise, then, that in the 1970s Charlie should become a doctor who specializes in treating the mental disorders of returning Vietnam vets suffering from PTSD.

One of these damaged vets, Danny, is the focus of Charlie's professional energy, the young man severely traumatized by what he has seen- and done- while in service to his country. Danny's sister, Agnes, is an unexpected gift to the young doctor; Charlie and Agnes marry and have a daughter, Cassie, embracing the tormented Danny as a part of their small family. But Danny's slow disintegration ultimately takes a toll on the marriage, Charlie unable to comfort Agnes when she most needs him. His work becomes salvation until his mother's death, when Charlie's careful house of cards comes crashing down: he assumes her chronic depression, a cloak of dread that weighs upon every aspect of his life.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dashed off? June 24, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're hoping for a soul-baring by one of McGrath's fascinatingly damaged narrators, think twice before buying Trauma. As a fan of Dr. Haggard's Disease, Spider, and Asylum, I looked forward to more of the same sort of psychological study in Trauma. It actually belongs to a different genre from McGrath's other books -- not modern gothic (though there is a brief nod in that direction at the end), but a more mainstream exploration of an American psychiatrist struggling to live and work under the burden of a repressed childhood trauma. As the story progresses we're given clues to the nature of the damage, but when the moment of revelation came I found myself only mildly interested. Though Trauma is well plotted and written (I doubt McGrath could do less if he tried), it seemed to me that its author, too, was only mildly interested. Mistakes in the text (e.g., confusion between "lie" and "lay", & between saints Stephen and Sebastian) strengthen the impression that both writer and editor gave less attention to Trauma than they might have done. I'll always be a McGrath devotee, but this particular book fails to grip.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book on a psychiatrist's personal angst.
Published 14 days ago by pc
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good book.
All of this author's books are excellent and this is no exception. I just wish there were more to read.
Published 11 months ago by kcls
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, engrossing, as ever
McGrath continues to be the modern master of the unreliable narrator, not to mention the dark, dank passage into dementia. Trauma is no exception to his marvelous body of work. Read more
Published 23 months ago by J. Hundley
3.0 out of 5 stars A Weird Book
Not sure why, but this book is incredibly hard to get into. A reader can recognize straight away that there is something strange going on, but it is difficult to figure out what... Read more
Published on July 10, 2011 by J. Smallridge
5.0 out of 5 stars The L word? The H word?
Whenever anyone starts arguing about "literary horror," I always think of Patrick McGrath's excellent books. I don't believe he's been much embraced by horror fans. Read more
Published on June 26, 2011 by Robert Dunbar
4.0 out of 5 stars A wondrously strong title from a gifted writer who should be getting...
Patrick McGrath's talents at mining the human psyche are exquisite. In each of his works he has the ability to deftly peel back the mysterious layers of his characters, exposing... Read more
Published on June 9, 2010 by Bookreporter
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best
if you have read McGrath's "Asylum" this one is pretty thin beer.
Elegantly written, as always, but the emotional tension seems more manufactured than in his earlier... Read more
Published on March 16, 2009 by Katya
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, very human story
I immediately was drawn into this book. It's characters were well drawn, the plot although going back and forth in time was compelling and I didn't see the end coming. Read more
Published on August 28, 2008 by Savannah Jade
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will knock you off of your feet. . .
Trauma is an intense book. It thoroughly grips you and refuses to loosen up on it's hold, long after you complete the book. Read more
Published on August 23, 2008 by Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Past Catches Up
A probing psychological study of a man's deterioration is the subject of this novel. Charles Weir is a successful but troubled psychiatrist, brought up in a dysfunctional family... Read more
Published on July 1, 2008 by Ted Feit
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