CASE STUDY – Graeme Macrae Burnet

“Perhaps it’s half truth, half fiction. But the real truth – the important truth – is that on this day, in this room, this is the story you chose to tell. Even if there is not an ounce of veracity in what you told me, that would still be true.”

That quote pretty much sums up Graeme Macrae Burnet’s Case Study (Saraband 2022), which was longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.  The novel is a cheeky little thing, playing fast and loose with the reader when it comes to what is true and what is fiction.  At times, it runs the risk of thinking it is cleverer than it is, but it never really crosses that line.  Structurally and thematically, there are a lot of similarities with Trust, another 2022 Booker book.  I loved Trust – to me, it excelled with that story within a story and what can a person actually trust is true.  I’m honestly surprised they both made the list.

The long and short of Case Study?  An author with the initials GMB (cheeky, much?) is writing a book on the 1960s psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite, known for his questionable practices, lack of license, and book “Kill Your Self.” He receives an email from Martin Grey, a cousin of a woman who had been treated by Braithwaite and kept notebooks.  He offers GMB the notebooks.  What follows is pulled from GMB’s research and the notebooks, which are narrated by an anonymous woman.  This woman adopts the name Rebecca Smyth when she begins to see Braithwaite because she does not want him to know who she really is.  She’s really a former patient’s sister.  This unnamed narrator blames Braithwaite for her sister’s suicide, and she begins to see him as part of her “investigation.”

By the end of it, the reader is left with a questionable and slippery grasp on the truth.

Read the book.  I preferred Trust, but it’s worth a go.

Booker count: 10 of 13

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