Reviewed by Claudia Robinson

“I will go back to where I belong, and sitting in my white ice chamber I will think this through, process what has happened, figure out a way to merge my life as it has been with this detour I have taken, this excursion gone wrong, gone right, that has filled a void that haunted and haunted without reprise. ” Alfie Buber, The Double Life of Alfred Buber

After war breaks out in Rhodesia, Alfred Buber is shipped off in to the care of Nigel and his wife, in America, in order to pursue a better life. Over time, and with hard work, he manages to work his way up the ladder in a respectable Law firm, and become a model citizen amongst his peers. Eccentric, slightly off, with decidedly unique people skills, particularly when it comes to women and relationships with them, Buber finds himself seeking comfort, refuge and love, of a very different kind, in the arms of a Bangkok prostitute. Written as a memoir to his daughter, The Double Life of Alfred Buber describes the journey that begins with an unforgettable, blurry, trip overseas, and his first meeting with the beautiful, young, imperfectly perfect, Nok and the subsequent return visits that become a mission to bring back the love of his life, and integrate her in to his pillar of community lifestyle. Or not.

On the one hand, Alfred is strong, frugal, smart and, as his mansion certainly proves, at the pinnacle of his career. Successful. In control of his life. BUT – on the other hand, there is a hole in his life that anything Western America has to offer, can’t seem to fill. His lust and desires lead him to pursue that which will amend the emptiness, and place him in a position in which he becomes vulnerable and completely OUT of control. As Alfie falls for Nok, a woman, a secret, he can never share with those in his ‘other’ life, his mental health declines, and the careful balance between his two worlds begins to shift and crumble.

Exquisitely written, detailed, fierily emotional and yet completely cold and callous, The Double Life of Alfred Buber is a unique read that will settle around a reader like a cloying dust and linger, even after a long, hot shower, in the pores. It’s a confusing, delicious, is he or isn’t he, can he or can’t he, will he or won’t he, story of love, lust, power, money and lack of. Of two worlds and a crash course collision that may or may not bring them together in the end for a happy ever after. Or not.

Not a subtle or easy read, The Double Life of Alfred Buber won’t please everyone. It’s intelligent, debauched and detached all at once. The taste it leaves in the mouth varies. Each confession, each moment meted out with a precise slice of madness that hovers on the edge of normal and not, and personal perception. A calamitous kaleidoscope of a book. Take a bite, you might just like it.

Rating: 4/5

Claudia lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband and two children.

The review copy of this book was provided free of any obligation by Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.