OVERRIDE

Strange Piece of Paradise

Terri Jentz

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, make a cross-country bike trip. They pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they are sleeping, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an ax. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, but Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with memories of the attack. Their friendship is shattered.

Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits she will make "to solve the crime that would solve me." And she makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. Slowly, her extensive interviews with the townspeople yield a terrifying revelation: many say they know who did it, and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth about the crime and its aftermath, and to come to terms with the wounds that broke her life into a before and an after. Ultimately she finds herself face-to-face with the alleged axman.

Powerful, eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers, Strange Piece of Paradise is the electrifying account of Terri's investigation into the mystery of her near murder. A startling profile of a psychopath, a sweeping reflection on violence and the myth of American individualism, and a moving record of a brave inner journey from violence to hope, this searing, unforgettable work is certain to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

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Strange Piece of Paradise
Part OneIt has sometimes taken me ten years to understand even a little of some important event that happened to me. Oh, I could have given a perfectly factual account of what happened but I didn't know what it meant until I knew the consequences.--KATHERINE ANNE PORTERA Dangerous Summer's NightPoised on that twilight edge between life and death, I felt intimately the part of me that was flesh, and I knew also that I was something more.I came to that insight early on. I was scarcely twenty. 
IT WAS 1977, a drought year in the American West, the driest year in
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MEDIA

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  • Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate

    Terri Jentz tells of her search for justice after being brutally attacked while camping.

  • Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Terri Jentz's memoir Strange Piece of Paradise. In the summer of 1977, Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate took a cross-country bike trip. As they lay sleeping in the central Oregon desert, a man in a pickup truck deliberately ran over their tent and proceeded to attack them with an axe. The horrific crime was reported in newspapers across the country, but no one was ever arrested.

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REVIEWS

Praise for Strange Piece of Paradise

"In this memoir Terri Jentz grapples with the deep subconscious of America, as well as its flesh and blood. Her writing has the weirdness and gravitas and beauty of life." --Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir

"An extraordinary story about the scars of the spirit and how they heal, Jentz's epic American journey is both heart-rending and heartening, devastating and redemptive." --Melanie Thernstrom, author of Halfway Heaven

"Strange Piece of Paradise is a haunting, lyrical journey through one woman's nightmare. Terri Jentz's debut is harrowing, gripping and poignant. The impact lingers long after the final page is turned." --Harlan Coben, author of No Second Chance

"Strange Piece of Paradise is a haunting masterpiece. A journey into the heart of American violence, it is both a vividly brutal story and a redemptive tale of self reclamation and justice--asking why is America such a violent place, who are the perpetrators, and what is the nature of the suffering they inflict, not only on their victims but on whole communities. As the author describes her own emotional progression with dazzlingly discerning and subtle precision, the story holds us in its grip until we realize we have witnessed a stunning reversal: the victim hunts down the suspected perpetrator.
No one will be the same after reading this brilliant book. It is transformative in the best way, soul changing, with the promise of altering a culture that far too often aims toward and glorifies destruction." --Susan Griffin, author of A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist)

"Start this book, and you won't stop. Memoir, detective story, travelogue, time capsule, horror movie come to life (and swinging a hatchet), obsessive manhunt, a tale of American innocence dashed and left for dead--Terri Jentz's Strange Piece of Paradise has the narcotic force of a nightmare that won't let go its grip until the truth is found and set free. In synopsis, Strange Piece of Paradise sounds like pulp fiction: 1977, two Yale students--hopeful and buoyant--embark upon a bike trip across the country's "most scenic blue roads" only to be brutally attacked at a campsite by a psycho stranger in cowboy boots who drives off into the desert night. But the story is true, the locations real, the scars left on the author's body bearing the track marks of her trauma. As if to perform reconstructive surgery on her psyche (to reconcile the adventurous young woman she was with the "scarecrow self" that has haunted her since), Jentz returns to the scene of the crime to conduct an epic investigation as shadowed in grief and as stricken by violence as Truman Capote's Kansas in In Cold Blood." --James Wolcott, Vanity Fair columnist and author of The Catsitters


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Available Formats and Book Details

Strange Piece of Paradise

Terri Jentz

Edgar Allen Poe Award Nominee
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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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