Patrick McGrath's new novel isn't his best. But it's another example of his extraordinary talent for dissecting our inner lives, and for blurring the fine line between sanity and sicknessby Alexander Linklater / July 26, 2008 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2008 issue of Prospect Magazine
by Patrick McGrath (Bloomsbury, £14.99)
“Dread,” says Dr Charlie Weir, the psychiatrist-narrator of Trauma, “signals not the imminence of a catastrophic event, but… the memory of a catastrophic event, one that has already happened.”
By raising this observation towards the end of his new novel, Patrick McGrath is not only steadying the reader for a denouement, he is describing his own narrative method. Charlie is a New York City psychiatrist helping his patients to deal with traumatic events in their past while trying to sort out his own life, unaware that he too is being manipulated by a hidden event. In little more than 200 spare pages, McGrath digs back through the chronology of Charlie’s life to expose his psychological origins. The brilliance of the storytelling lies in the way it gives this retrospective process the illusion of forward momentum: we march onward towards an undisclosed past.