Friday, May 1, 2015

Case Study No. 1932: Carrie Bell

The dive from clausen's pier review
Book review
Tags: webcam video Shelby Peck
Added: 3 years ago
From: Shelby Peck
Views: 357

[scene opens with a young woman speaking directly to the camera]
SHELBY: How much do we owe the people we love? Is it a sign of strength, or is it a sign of weakness to walk away from someone who's in need?
[she pauses]
SHELBY: The book "The Dive from Clausen's Pier" by Ann Packer demonstrates how the main character Carrie faces these choices.
[she pauses]
SHELBY: Ann Packer spent ten years writing this novel, and she finally published it in Two Thousand Two. She wrote this book because her father ... because when she was ten years old, her father, um became, had a stroke and was in a coma and was paralyzed.
[she pauses]
SHELBY: Some other books by Ann Packer were "Songs Without Words" and "Mendicino." The target audience that Ann Packer was trying to touch with this novel would be ... young engaged couples, or young couples who think that they're in love.
[she pauses]
SHELBY: Also, I think that this book would relate to a lotta people who are not sure about whether their relationship with someone is right, and this novel really teaches how to handle life's, um, life's ... y'know, obstacles and how to overcome them. This novel is about two, er, two people who are in love, and they're going on a vacation with some of their friends. When one'a the main characters, Mike, dives off of a pier, he hits his neck and is now in a coma.
[she pauses]
SHELBY: What I liked about this book was how it showed true love for two people, and it expressed the love that someone could have for one another. And not only does it affect, your choices affect you but it affects everyone who cares about you. Except what I didn't like about this book was how it ended. I mean, Ann Packer is building up this great storyline and you just don't wanna put the book down, but when you do find out the ending and y'know, how everything falls into place, it changes your perspective on the book.
[she pauses]
SHELBY: I would recommend this book for any student who's in a relationship, or in high school, or thinking about being in a relationship ... because not everyone marries their high school sweetheart. Um, I think this book really changes how you look at love. So, read the book to find out if Carrie fights for her love with Mike or walks away.



The Dive From Clausen's Pier: A Novel
by Ann Packer

How much do we owe the people we love? Is it a sign of strength or weakness to walk away from someone in need? These questions lie at the heart of Ann Packer's intimate and emotionally thrilling new novel, which has won its author comparisons with Jane Hamilton and Sue Miller.

At the age of twenty-three Carrie Bell has spent her entire life in Wisconsin, with the same best friend and the same dependable, easygoing, high school sweetheart. Now to her dismay she has begun to find this life suffocating and is considering leaving it-and Mike-behind. But when Mike is paralyzed in a diving accident, leaving seems unforgivable and yet more necessary than ever. The Dive from Clausen's Pier animates this dilemma-and Carrie's startling response to it - with the narrative assurance, exacting realism, and moral complexity we expect from the very best fiction.



The Dive From Clausen's Pier is the bestselling debut novel of author Ann Packer. This novel was first published in 2002 by Knopf publisher. Told through first person narration, the novel centers on Carrie Bell's response to her fiance's paralysis and through her reactions, questions the obligations and loyalty people have to those in their life. The novel is divided into three parts which detail the transitions of Carrie's life.

Plot summary
The story begins with a group of close friends from small town Madison, Wisconsin head to Clausen's Pier to celebrate Memorial Day. Carrie Bell has been thinking, for a long time, of how her longtime relationship with fiance Mike Mayer is wilting away. As everyone has noticed her withdrawal from Mike, Mike decides to win back her attention by taking a daring dive off of the pier into the shallow waters below. As a result of this dive, he breaks his neck and becomes paralyzed. While all of the friends do their best to help him adapt to the situation, Carrie finds herself under too much pressure to stay in the situation, and impulsively moves to New York.

In New York, Carrie attempts to come to terms with who she is as a person. She faces the guilt of leaving behind her life and paraplegic fiance. She finds herself in love with a new man, Killroy, who helps her find herself. Carrie, being exposed to the fast-paced and electric city life, finds her release in fashion.

However, the guilt becomes too much for Carrie and she is drawn back to the Midwest. She finds that the bonds are still strong and that while New York was an escape for her, her life is truly in Madison. She returns to her hometown and makes strong efforts to rebuild her relationships not only with Mike, but with her friends, family, and herself.

General facts
Setting: Madison, Wisconsin and Manhattan, New York in modern day, 21st century
Narration: First Person Narrator, Carrie Bell
Conflict Type: Internal Conflict
Conflict Kind: Psychological, Classical
Main Characters: Carrie Bell, Mike Mayer, Killroy
Secondary Characters: Mrs. Bell, Mrs. Mayer, Simon, Jamie, Rooster



I worked at the university library, where I'd had a work-study job while I was a student; when I graduated they offered me thirty-five hours a week, and so I stayed on. I could take or leave the job, but I liked being on campus; walking to the Union on breaks, heading up State Street to window-shop. My job was in the rare books room, where the only staff member close to my age was a graduate student named Viktor, from Poland. He was at the desk when I arrived, and I could tell right away he was in a good mood.

"Carrie, Carrie, come here." He motioned me over with a boisterous wave of his arm. Although he was sitting and I was standing, he seemed to loom over me; he was without doubt the biggest person I'd ever known, six-six with broad beefy shoulders and a thick slab of a torso. When I first told him about Mike's accident, he grabbed me and hugged me so hard I nearly lost my breath.

Today he said, "This morning I am telling Ania that we must be more social. In Slavic studies we have parties, but they are too Slavic. You can come for dinner when?"

I glanced around. Viktor's library voice conceded nothing to the place, and several people stared at us from the long tables where they sat working, apparently waiting to hear if I'd accept. Dinner at Viktor's. This was a first, and I wondered how much it had to do with Mike's being in the hospital, and whether or not, given that Mike was in the hospital, I should go. I was about to make an excuse when a door at the back of the room opened, and the neat prim head of our boss, Miss Grafton, poked out.

"Oops," I said quietly, but Viktor put on a big smile and waved genially at her, and after a moment her head withdrew and she closed the door.

"She loves me," he said matter-of-factly, his voice only a little lower now. "I am tall, strong, good-looking. She sees me and thinks of the agony of her dry, sexless life, but she is happy for a moment because I remind her of when it wasn't so."

"Viktor," I said.

"You don't think this is true?"

"It's just you're so modest."

He ran a hand over his bristly jaw. "I am shaving every two days now for my new look." He took my hand and made me feel his chin. "Yes, I think you like it."

I laughed. Mike loved my Viktor stories, and I thought of how funny he'd think this one was, then remembered I couldn't tell him. A feeling of something heavy moved through me, like sand falling through water. I looked away.

"Let's say a week from Saturday," he said. We are cooking Tex Mex. Ania is a fabulous cook, you know."

"I don't know, I--"

"Not 'I don't know,'" he said. "Yes. Yes!"

"OK, yes."

He smiled triumphantly, deep lines appearing in his stubbly cheeks. He was twenty-eight but looked older.

I moved away, ready to get to work, and he called my name.

"Viktor," I said, turning back wearily. "Miss Grafton's going to--"

"You have to relax a little, Carrie." He lifted both hands and shook his head mournfully. "We talk and we do our work, and it is not a problem."


I had desk duty at the library on Monday. It was the most boring part of my job, and I usually had a crossword puzzle to work on when no one was looking, or a magazine tucked into a partly closed drawer. Today it was a magazine. I was reading covertly, and keeping an eye on the closed door behind which Miss Grafton sat, when Rooster came in at a little after twelve-thirty, his suitcoat in a bundle under his arm. He stood just inside the double doors until he saw me at the desk, then he marched over and said, "We have to talk."

I glanced around and put a finger to my lips.

"Don't shush me," he said evenly. "I drove all the way up here, I had to park on the top level of the ramp, I have exactly twenty-six minutes to eat and get back - so please don't shush me."

Everyone in the rare books room was looking at us. "I'm working," I said. "My break's not till three. I'm sorry."

"Ten minutes," he said. "Five - just walk out into the hall with me."

Miss Grafton had opened her door at the first sound of his voice, and now she walked across the room, her heels clicking on the linoleum. "You may go," she said in a low voice. "I'll sit here until you return."

"I'm really sorry," I said. "This'll never happen again."

I got my purse from the staff room and headed for the door, looking back just in time to see Miss Grafton pull open the desk drawer and withdraw my Harper's Bazaar - not, alas, one of the periodicals housed on the shelves of the rare books room.

"Great," I said to Rooster when the double doors had swung shut behind us. "There goes my job."

But he didn't respond. Several paces ahead of me, he led the way down to the ground floor and out of the library, not looking back once. Finally he stopped and leaned against the building. We were on a wide, empty plaza, the sun blazing down and reflecting off the concrete. Across the way, a woman sat behind a blanket arrayed with Guatemalan goods, pants and hats and bracelets woven from colorful yarns. There was no one else in sight.

"Listen, Carrie," he began. "We go way back, and we've always got along pretty good, right? I mean, none of this my-best-friend's-girlfriend shit, right?"

I nodded, although I had no idea what he meant.

"So excuse me when I say you have to try harder."

"What are you talking about?"

His eyes widened. "What am I talking about? What am I talking about? I'm talking about Mike. Jesus fucking Christ, Carrie." He threw up his hands in disgust. "You're failing here, do you understand that? You're like, Oh, poor me, my boyfriend's in the hospital but I'm the one suffering. It's like you're the one this is hard on, forget anyone else. His own mother feels like she's gotta act like it's not so bad in case you take it into your head to walk. She does - she told me so."

"No," I said.

"No what?"

"No, I won't excuse you." I turned to leave and he grabbed my arm and held it tightly, his fingers digging into my flesh.

"Carrie, Christ," he said. "This is Mike."

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