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Jacobs, T.J. (2015). Fiction: The Parts Left Out: A Novel. By Thomas H. Ogden. London: Karnac Books, 2014, 256 pp., $16.95.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 63(2):395-397.
(2015). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 63(2):395-397
Fiction: The Parts Left Out: A Novel. By Thomas H. Ogden. London: Karnac Books, 2014, 256 pp., $16.95.
Review by: Theodore J. Jacobs
Thomas Ogden is widely regarded as America's most original and influential psychoanalyst. The author of eleven books of essays on the theory and practice of psychoanalysis, several of which have already become classics, he has also contributed invaluable critical readings of Freud, Winnicott, Bion, Fairbairn, Loewald, and others. In addition, Ogden has written insightful and discerning studies of a number of literary masters including Frost, Borges, Kafka, Seamus Heaney, and Wallace Stevens.
Now Tom Ogden has himself written a masterful novel, The Parts Left Out. His first effort in the genre, it in no way reads like the debut novel of a writer still learning his craft. This is a highly accomplished literary work. A tragic tale both stark and unrelenting, the novel unfolds with the inevitability of a Greek drama. Indeed, it portrays individuals who, like characters in those classical dramas, are driven to live out their tragic destinies by unconscious forces as powerful as the dictates of the gods.
The Parts Left Out tells the story of the Bromfmans, a Midwestern farm family whose lives seem on the surface as parched and arid as land ravaged by dust storms. In their youth, the father, Earl, had dreams of being an architect; the mother, Marta, a restorer of rare books. When during a relationship in their college years that served their need for stability and security but was devoid of passion or romance, Marta became pregnant with an unwanted child and refused to terminate the pregnancy. Earl, feeling honor-bound to marry her, hoped that a child would both strengthen their relationship and provide him the loving family he craved.
This hope, however, was dashed by the harsh realities of life and the bitter disappointments that both Earl and Marta go on to suffer; these disappointments, along with the frustrations of daily life, have bred an inner fury that poisons everyone in the family, building until it can no longer be contained.
[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]