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You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon

You Remind Me of Me (edition 2005)

by Dan Chaon

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7633412,153 (3.6)33
Title:You Remind Me of Me
Authors:Dan Chaon
Info:Ballantine Books (2005), Paperback, 356 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction - Literary

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You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This book was really well done. However, I did not like because it was too gray--I was depressed for the characters.

I read lots of books that are about depressing things, but this was unalleviated. So, I think the writer is good, but I did not enjoy this. ( )
  evacarey | Jan 2, 2017 |
"There was no way to account for love, she thought, or for sorrow."

Dan Chaon's gifts as a short-story writer show themselves in his exquisitely crafted sentences, as in this passage from the novel's opening:

"In the movie you would only see him emerging from the bus, a boy running with his backpack dragging through the wet gravel, a red stocking cap, a worn blue ski jacket, stones grinding together beneath his boots, a pleasantly rhythmic noise he was making. And you would be up above everything like a bird, the long gravel road that led from the mailbox to the house, the weeds along the ditches, the telephone poles, barbed-wire fences, railroad tracks. The horizon, the wide plain of dust and wind."

In this story of two half-brothers trying to make sense of the small and large failures of their lives, Chaon is sensitive to the subtleties of personality. He dwells in melancholy; he is well acquainted with sadness and longing. He is painfully honest about the complexities of relationships and shows us how people really feel about each other, how they struggle and fail to hide those feelings.

The characters feel like real people -- so real, in fact, that they can become as boring as stretches of real life. They change and make decisions at a glacial pace. They can be so passive that the book becomes a dreamscape, where nothing that happens has deeply felt consequences.

The chronology skips around frequently, sometimes for recognizable reasons of structure and pacing, sometimes not. I understand the novel's recursive style fits the theme of desperately wanting to remake the past, but honestly, after a while I wanted to take a pair of scissors to the whole thing and straighten it out.

I admire the book for Chaon's facility with language and his willingness to look at people's motives and failures unflinchingly. The beginning and ending, where he apparently spent most of his energy, are as beautiful and moving as his short stories. ( )
  amymerrick | Jun 3, 2015 |
I wanted to weep at the end of this book, not for any specific character or event - just for all the lost souls out there in general. ( )
  viviennestrauss | May 17, 2014 |
Since finally getting around to reading Dan Chaon less than three months ago, I've kind of been on a tear going through whatever I can get my hands on of his. Chaon tells the story of Jonah, who has grown up knowing that his mother gave his older brother up for adoption before Jonah was born, and Jonah's search to find a connection with that brother after all his other family members have died.

Jonah is a thoroughly bizarre individual, bearing hideous facial scars (from a childhood mauling by the family's dog) and an otherworldly countenance that disturb passers-by and leave him generally alienated. "There was a flutter among the people, as among grazing animals who sense a predator..." His thoughts are written so calculatedly and detachedly that I often wondered if he was a sociopath; many of his actions suggest that he lacks any understanding of normal human behavior or boundaries. He watches people's behavior because he wants "to know what he should be like."

He is a pathological liar, repeatedly inventing stories about his past in attempt to be interesting to those he hopes to befriend. And yet, his plight is wrenching and I felt overwhelmingly sad for him. The more desperately Jonah tries to force himself into others' lives, the more they pull away. As his embellished life becomes increasingly baroque, an honest connection with anyone becomes completely untenable. "Each time {they} met, it felt as if he'd unraveled a little bit further from himself, from his true history. Each afternoon...it felt like he was acting out a persona that was more false than the time before. It wouldn't be long, he thought, before he was completely imaginary."

You Remind Me of Me is Chaon's first full-length novel. It was very interesting to read it after Await Your Reply because of the way in which it foreshadows so many of the ideas that the latter book will play with in a different way - the fragility of the self; the possibility of living other lives and becoming other people; the bleakness of minimum-wage life in the vast American middle; and the ties that families create or fail to create. Chaon also uses some of the same techniques - multiple perspectives, a lack of guideposts to indicate how these perspectives are related (at least initially), and non-chronological arrangement of the story - to create this vague yet ever-present sense of dread and discomfort. I never knew what kind of story I was in - was a hideous crime right around the corner? was this that kind of book? - and I enjoyed being rather unsettled in such a way. ( )
3 vote fannyprice | Feb 10, 2014 |
Good but slow read. Difficult at times to keep track of events because there is a lot of jumping around chronologically. Worth the read, however, as you can get sucked in by the miserable circumstances these people live through. It's one that showcases how some lives are just lived with no real bright spots or great shining moments. Life is hard, but it can be exceptionally hard for some unfortunate souls. Some people just don't get a break.

This story ties together the lives of a young pregnant teenager in the 60s, sent to a home for unwed mothers, a young boy savagely attacked by the family Doberman and left with terrible scars he will carry for the rest of his life, and a young father struggling to support his son and young cousin after his wife leaves him. Delves into the question of how different (better?) a person's life could have ended up if they started out with a different family. ( )
  AddictedToMorphemes | Sep 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Dan Chaon's writing has grown darker and deeper with time, and his new book, the beautifully disquieting ''You Remind Me of Me,'' is no exception. It more than fulfills the promise of his story collection ''Among the Missing,'' which was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2001..... But for Chaon, whose subject is often the extraordinary fates of otherwise ordinary, anonymous people, these are artifacts -- a piece of flint, a shard of pottery -- from which he constructs a civilization.
added by SimoneA | editNew York Times, Sara Mosle (Jul 11, 2004)
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To Dan Smetanka & to my sons, two good brothers & to my wife, Sheila:always, everything
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Jonah was dead for a brief time before the paramedics brought him back to life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345441400, Paperback)

With his critically acclaimed Among the Missing and Fitting Ends, award-winning author Dan Chaon proved himself a master of the short story form. He is a writer, observes the Chicago Tribune, who can “convincingly squeeze whole lives into a mere twenty pages or so.” Now Chaon marshals his notable talents in his much-anticipated debut novel.

You Remind Me of Me begins with a series of separate incidents: In 1977, a little boy is savagely attacked by his mother’s pet Doberman; in 1997 another little boy disappears from his grandmother’s backyard on a sunny summer morning; in 1966, a pregnant teenager admits herself to a maternity home, with the intention of giving her child up for adoption; in 1991, a young man drifts toward a career as a drug dealer, even as he hopes for something better. With penetrating insight and a deep devotion to his characters, Dan Chaon explores the secret connections that irrevocably link them. In the process he examines questions of identity, fate, and circumstance: Why do we become the people that we become? How do we end up stuck in lives that we never wanted? And can we change the course of what seems inevitable?

In language that is both unflinching and exquisite, Chaon moves deftly between the past and the present in the small-town prairie Midwest and shows us the extraordinary lives of “ordinary” people.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:41 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Why do we become who we become? Through the intertwined threads of the characters' lives, this is the question explored in this eagerly awaited first novel from the National Book Award finalist.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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