THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS

Recipient of the 2014 Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award
Long listed for the 2014 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Named a best book of September 2014 by Flavorwire and Bustle
Book club pick for the Wisconsin State Journal

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It’s 1998, and Sylvie Patterson, a bookish student at a Northern California boarding school, falls in love with a spirited, elusive classmate named Gabe. Their headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, is a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming: By teaching his patients to become conscious during sleep, he helps them to relieve stress and heal from trauma.

Over the next six years, Sylvie and Gabe become consumed by Keller’s work, following him from the redwood forests of Eureka to the New England coast. But when an opportunity brings the trio to the Midwest, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled relationship with their mysterious neighbors—and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller’s research, recognizing the harm that can be wrought under the guise of progress. 

As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn’t, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself: an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia, and a new sense of rebellion. In stirring, elegant prose, Benjamin’s tale exposes the slippery nature of trust—and the immense power of our dreams.


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reviews

[A] promising debut.
— TIME
A debut novel of subtlety, depth, intrigue and tenderness. Chloe Benjamin is a great new talent.
— Lorrie Moore
A moving love story wrapped in the trappings of a sci-fi thriller. Benjamin has a deft hand for rendering both the stomach-twisting nature of early infatuation and the way relationships mellow over time. Sentences have a dreamy rhythm. A sly, promising, and ambitious debut.
— Publisher's Weekly
Chloe Benjamin proves her own fiery ambition with her impressive debut... The way that Benjamin gives equal weight to the romantic relationship and the novel’s more cerebral, philosophical questions is impressive—and a feat we hope to see in many more books to come.
— NYLON Magazine
Mounting tension and [an] atmosphere of secrecy will definitely keep the pages of this taut psychological exploration turning right up until the tense, satisfying denouement.
— Booklist
Chloe Benjamin’s ambitious debut novel matches the subtle surrealism of a dream with the underpinnings of a thriller. Back and forth in time like so many memories coming to light at once, Benjamin has produced a wholly original tale.
— Emma Straub, author of THE VACATIONERS
Uncertainty lingers through much of Benjamin’s book, which has all the trappings of a scary thriller, but which skillfully converts itself into something more genteel and, in a way, more methodical: a study of the grim work of growing up.
— The Washington Independent Review of Books
Stellar debut novels have taken over the 2014 book scene—and one of those is Benjamin’s The Anatomy of Dreams. Let’s just call it a mystery wrapped in a psychological thriller with the structure of a coming-of-age story and just a hint of the fantastic.
— Time Out New York
THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS is a vibrant, ambitious novel that wrestles with the big complexities of early adulthood—the impossibility of fully knowing a partner, the quixotic desire for meaningful work, and the surprisingly sudden nature of obsession. Chloe Benjamin’s impressive debut shimmers and surprises with its wonderfully original fusion of compelling quirk and surreal mystery.
— Dean Bakopoulos, author of SUMMERLONG
THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS is a beautiful, haunting plunge into a mysterious world where the real and the dream are cleverly blurred. Sylvie’s story drew me in from the first, and the subtle menace kept me turning pages to its surprising conclusion. Chloe Benjamin has crafted an eerie, compelling first novel which, like the lingering effects of a vivid dream, resonates long past its finish.
— Karen Brown, author of THE CLAIRVOYANTS

Selected Interviews & Media
 

A video from Simon & Schuster about publishing THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS

A Q&A with Time Out New York on lucid dreaming and not writing a love story

A feature at Kirkus on speculative fiction, realism and the hardest part of the writing process

A radio interview with  WPR's Larry Meiller Show

Two interviews with The Wisconsin State Journal, on setting the novel in Madison and writing rituals, real-life sleep crimes, and Hollywood

An interview with ISTHMUS on Madison's role in The Anatomy of Dreams, inventing Dr. Keller's research and spotting Gabe and Sylvie's real-life house