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The truth of fiction

Posted by Jan Gardner  February 26, 2007 09:18 AM

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I'm pages away from finishing Chris Bohjalian's new novel "The Double Bind.'' It's a stomach-churner and if the ending disappoints me, I will be mad.

Scattered throughout the novel are photographs taken by the late Bob "Soupy'' Campbell, who ended up homeless in Burlington, Vt. The photographs are clearly the work of a real talent. In the 1950s and '60s, Campbell captured on film musicians, comedians, actors, and other luminaries. How he ended up homeless, Bohjalian doesn't know, but he surmises it's for the usual reasons: mental illness, substance abuse, and bad luck.

Bohjalian based Bobbie Crocker, his main character in "The Double Bind,'' on Campbell. The book will debut next Sunday on The New York Times bestseller list at number 3 and Bohjalian will be reading at the Brookline Booksmith tomorrow at 7 p.m.

What Bohjalian's done is intriguing but I find myself hungering for the real-life story of Bobby Campbell's downfall.

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