Picks and Pans Review: Trauma

UPDATED 04/28/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/28/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT

By Patrick McGrath | [

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McGrath's haunting seventh novel features emotionally damaged New Yorkers who epitomize the term "walking wounded." Charlie Weir is a psychiatrist who couldn't save Danny, a Vietnam vet (and Charlie's ex-wife Agnes's brother), from suicide. Agnes blames Charlie—who in truth could use a shrink himself, as he tries to assuage his loneliness by sleeping with Agnes (or strangers). McGrath trains a keen eye on his characters' pain, making it palpable. "This is what trauma is," says Charlie. "The event is always happening now, in the present, for the first time."

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