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Someone by Alice McDermott


by Alice McDermott

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4363624,126 (4.11)56
  1. 20
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (Ciruelo)
  2. 10
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (Betty.Ann.Beam)
    Betty.Ann.Beam: They both deal with the Irish immigrant experience. I would suggest that you read Angela's Ashes first since Someone is rather difficult to decifer and may take several readings. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is also in the same vein. They are all stories that bely tne American Dream.… (more)

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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I found the book tough to get into, but in the end it was well worth the read. It was chosen for a bookclub and the group discussion almost makes me want to go back and read it again. The jumps between different times in Marie's life makes it a little hard to follow if you are reading in a single sitting (quite possible, since it is just over 200 pages long). Reportedly, it took McDermott 7 years to complete it, including a complete rewrite switching from third to first person narration. It was worth the wait. I would recommend it highly. ( )
  Jcambridge | Feb 15, 2015 |
plain and unremarkable Marie finds her way, the path and connections that unfold are lovely and remarkable.
  objectplace | Jan 17, 2015 |
This is my 2nd Alice McDermott novel. She is an author who won a National Book Award for Charming Billy which I enjoyed. This book about Marie covers her life through various entry points. It is not written chronologically. The style is sparse and the writing is excellent. This is simply a story about a person's life and deals with what is like to have family and be part of a community. It is not for everyone so if you are looking for a plot and action, then this is not for you, but as a character study and a good insight into someone's life, it is a good read. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Jan 5, 2015 |
The plot of Someone is essentially this: Marie grows older and experiences life. I am not a fan of minimalist plots, but I do understand that good novels have many aspects. This is one that has to be appreciated for reasons other than a strong story line and that’s easy to do. Someone has exquisite writing and intricate character development. Tom and Marie are people I want to know. Their relationship is beautiful. It is based on a common culture along with loving and caring for each other. I enjoyed getting to know them as much as any other characters I’ve met through the books I’ve read this year. Marie’s relationship with her brother, Gabe, is also wonderful. Alice Mcdermott has shown the depth of love so common between a brother and a sister and yet so marvelous to witness. Gabe and Marie both have their problems, but they get through them by supporting each other. Someone is essentially the antithesis of a book like Gone Girl yet both novels are good reads.

Someone is an easy book to sample. A reader can choose almost any paragraph at random and find a thorough, beautiful description with great attention to detail. Here is a description of Marie, the narrator, sitting on a stoop, waiting for her father after watching a street game of stickball.

I pushed my glasses back on my nose. Small city birds the color of ashes rose and fell along the rooftops. In the fading evening light, the stoop beneath my thighs, as warm as breath when I first sat down, now exhaled a shallow chill. Mr. Chehab walked by with a brown bag from the bakery in his hand. He had his white apron balled up beneath his arm, the ties trailing. There was the scent of new-baked bread as he passed. Big Lucy, a girl I feared, pushed a scooter along the opposite sidewalk. Two Sisters of Charity from the convent down the street passed by, smiling from inside their bonnets. I turned my head to watch their backs, wondering always why their long hems never caught at their heels. At the end of the block, the Sisters paused to greet a heavy woman with thick, pale legs and a dark apron under her coat. She said something to them that made them nod. Then the three turned the corner together. The game paused again, and the boys parted reluctantly as a black car drove by.

I shivered and waited, little Marie. Sole survivor, now, of that street scene. Waited for the first sighting of my father, coming up from the subway in his hat and coat, most beloved among all those ghosts.

Someone is a book for readers who can appreciate the fact that ordinary people lead interesting lives.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Jan 1, 2015 |
An excellent portrayal of an ordinary life, poignant with a hint of mystery and with the atmosphere, smell and vision of every scene clearly presented. ( )
  snash | Nov 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
There are many reasons to write a novel.

One — maybe the best — is to bear compassionate witness to what it is to be alive, in this place, this time. This kind of novel is necessary to us. We need to know about other lives: This kind of knowledge expands our understanding, it enlarges our souls. There are differences between us, but there are things we share. Fear and vulnerability, joy and passion, the capacity for love and pain and grief: Those are common to us all. Those are the things that great novelists explore. And it’s this exploration, made with tenderness, wisdom and caritas, that’s at the heart of Alice McDermott’s masterpiece.
Each slide, each scene, from the ostensibly inconsequential to the clearly momentous, is illuminated with equal care. The effect on the reader is of sitting alongside the narrator, sharing the task of sifting the salvaged fragments of her life, watching her puzzle over, rearrange and reconsider them — and at last, but without any particular urgency or certitude, tilting herself in the direction of finally discerning their significance.

This is a quiet business, but it’s the sense-making we all engage in, the narrative work that allows us to construct a coherent framework for our everyday existence. It’s also a serious business, the essential work of an examined life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374281092, Hardcover)

A fully realized portrait of one woman’s life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award–winning author

An ordinary life—its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott’s extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age—come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott’s deft, lyrical voice.
     Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an “amadan,” a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott’s novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.
     Marie’s first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother’s brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents’ deaths; the births and lives of Marie’s children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn—McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:44:04 -0400)

"The story of a Brooklyn-born woman's life - her family, her neighborhood, her daily trials and triumphs - from childhood to old age"--Provided by the publisher.

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