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"The Bend of the World" is the 2014 debut novel by Jacob Bacharach. Although the book does not seem to be an autobiography, as such, there are several elements in it that make it seem like a roman a clef, of sorts. The book also includes something that may be either magical realism or science fiction, although which it is, or whether it is either, is very much left up to the reader's imagination.

The book centers around Peter Morrison, a 29 year old man living in Pittsburgh who works for a company called "Global Solutions" where he performs work that is abstracted from any real product or enterprise. He has a gay best friend, Johnny, who he grew up with and is still close with, although the young professional Peter is a little uncomfortable with the amount of drugs that Johnny has been taking, and is more than skeptical at the hodge-podge of conspiracy theories that Johnny is espousing. There is also an art school girlfriend named Lauren Sara, and a conniving lawyer/corporate raider named Mark and his art school girlfriend. Together with his co-workers and family, Peter moves between them, with one foot in the world of drunken house parties and buying weed on the bus, and the other foot in the world of government power and corporate intrigue. Also, there are UFOs. Or maybe there isn't. The book constantly teases us with the prospect that the conspiracy theories that Johnny espouses will turn into a full-fledged science fiction plot, only to have them recede into the background as the book goes back to being a comedy of manners.

I don't know what, if any, agenda the author had in mind for this book. There are certainly large parts of it that address political or social issues, especially the anonymity and banality of modern corporate culture. (Global Solutions is always referred to with its tag line: "Global Solutions Solutions for a Global World" which always gave me a chuckle). The depiction of the young professionals who have one foot in the world of corporate and government power and one foot slumming in the world of drugs and parties could either be a straight depiction of the cultural milieu the author was writing in, or it could be a piece of social satire. I felt both ways towards it, perhaps because I myself come from the same milieu. Like a lot of good books, the book simply creates an internally consistent and interesting story, and lets the reader extract what they will from it.

Although this won't appeal to every reader, the book also contains some of the best descriptions of the disassociative experience that I've ever read. The constant rush of details and associations, of information twisting and becoming personal, is exactly what the rush of disassociatives feel like. The story also blurs the line between something being used as a metaphor and being used literally. We are never told whether Mark, the suave and manipulative corporate raider, is actually an alien or vampire of some sort, but in the end it doesn't matter. This combining (bending, if you will) of metaphor and truth is another effect that seems to be very related to the disassociative experience. While I don't know how important the rule of disassociatives is in the story, it seems to be described with great technical and experiencial accuracy.

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