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Greg Boyd. The Double (Doppelangelganger).

Leaping Dog, 2002. 136 pp. Paper: $14.95.

The Double is a book about a reader named Jeff. One of the books he reads is a collection of odd stories (in one, a giant phallus is delivered to a church; in another, a woman shaves her head to piss off her boyfriend), the other a collection of fairy tales written by a woman he meets in the course of his misadventures. Jeff is also his book's narrator, and the tale he tells is about how a man who looks like him is ruining his life by impersonating him, causing him to lose his job, apartment, girlfriend, identity. Between disasters, Jeff reproduces in appendices and footnotes the twenty stories he reads. What Jeff's story means is anybody's guess, despite a small smorgasbord of proffered possibilities (Jeff and his double are halves of a split personality; one is the other's "guardian angel"; one is the product of the other's fiction-infected imagination). To understand Jeff's story, readers are encouraged to connect it to those Jeff reads and passes along, but how these gloss what is going on is equally anybody's guess. What is clear is how much of Jeff's life story consists of what he reads (more than half of the book) and how little of what he reads proves in any way helpful to him. Like a lot of people, Jeff is living an odd, crisis-riddled life filled with peculiar stories that fail to help make sense of it. But Jeff isn't even trying to find instruction or truth. Rather, his reading kills time and proves a pleasant distraction--not unlike the afternoon when I read The Double and for a few hours forgot, more or less, how disenchanted with the world outside its pages I was. That, at any rate, is my story.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Author:Horvath, Brooke
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2003
Words:301
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