The Anatomy of Dreams
Overview - Winner of the Edna Ferber Prize Long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize "A sly, promising and ambitious debut." -- Publishers Weekly "Chloe Benjamin is a great new talent." --Lorrie Moore, author of Bark: Stories It's 1998, and Sylvie Patterson, a bookish student at a Northern California boarding school, falls in love with a spirited, elusive classmate named Gabe. Read more...
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More About The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin
Winner of the Edna Ferber Prize Long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize "A sly, promising and ambitious debut." --Publishers Weekly
"Chloe Benjamin is a great new talent." --Lorrie Moore, author of Bark: Stories
It's 1998, and Sylvie Patterson, a bookish student at a Northern California boarding school, falls in love with a spirited, elusive classmate named Gabe. Their headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, is a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming: By teaching his patients to become conscious during sleep, he helps them to relieve stress and heal from trauma. Over the next six years, Sylvie and Gabe become consumed by Keller's work, following him from the redwood forests of Eureka, California, to the enchanting New England coast.
But when an opportunity brings the trio to the Midwest, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled relationship with their mysterious neighbors--and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller's research, recognizing the harm that can be wrought under the guise of progress. As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn't, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself: an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia, and a new sense of rebellion.
In stirring, elegant prose, Benjamin's tale exposes the slippery nature of trust--and the immense power of our dreams.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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Benjamin’s debut novel is a moving love story wrapped in the trappings of a sci-fi thriller. Gabe is a student at a boarding school in California, where he gives Sylvie, a fellow student, her first taste of love and also introduces her to the secret nighttime experiments of the headmaster, Dr. Keller. When it comes to falling in love, the details are sharp—from sticky Cheetos-flavored kisses at a school dance to the heart-slamming feeling of being ignored. The teenage relationship doesn’t survive high school, but Sylvie can’t shake Gabe’s memory. Then he reappears in her life and convinces her to leave UC-Berkeley before graduating and join him in working with Dr. Keller—now a sleep researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducting experiments that are not as benign as they seem at first. As Sylvie and Gabe’s relationship begins, again, to fray, it becomes clear that they’re both harboring secrets. All this is brought into catastrophic focus by their friendship with the attractive couple next door. Benjamin has a deft hand for rendering both the stomach-twisting nature of early infatuation and the way relationships mellow over time. Sentences have a dreamy rhythm. The plot works best when the thriller elements focus on the love story. A sly, promising, and ambitious debut. (Sept.)