Picks and Pans Review: Picturing the Wreck
by Dani Shapiro
Solomon Grossman is a Holocaust survivor, a Freudian psychoanalyst on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a contemplative and solitary man whose life abruptly ended 30 years ago when he lost his wife, his infant son and his reputation after a breach of morality and professional ethics.
The thief was a beautiful young German woman, a LIFE magazine photographer who recorded such graphic images of human suffering as the face of a Buddhist monk in Vietnam burning in self-immolation. From the moment he encountered Katrina Volk in his consulting room, Grossman was stirred, psychically and sexually. He faltered, succumbed just once to his impulses and was disgraced only days later when she went public with his transgression. Solomon's wife left him, and he never saw Katrina Volk again.
When a plane crashes in L.A. one morning, Solomon faces the wreckage of his own life when he sees his son Daniel speaking on a television newscast as a representative of the National Transportation Safety Board. Grasping at the chance of redemption, Solomon breaks the rhythm of 30 years and books a flight that will take him to his son.
Exposing the mind of an emotionally devastated 64-year-old man is a courageous literary endeavor for a young female author, and Picturing the Wreck gives credence to the power of the imagination and to the writer's skill. With fluid prose and keen observation, Shapiro takes us achingly close to the center of a tortured heart and soul. (Doubleday, $22)
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