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In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari…

In Some Other World, Maybe

by Shari Goldhagen

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(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

After reading it myself now, I have to admit that I'm stumped as to why Shari Goldhagen's new novel In Some Other World, Maybe has been receiving such effusive praise; for while it's not bad at all, it's certainly not a book I would call great, a story that just sort of sits there like a Lifetime movie without making much of an impression at all. A character-based slice-of-life tale, the novel does all kinds of clever things to try to set itself apart, a clear reflection of the author's MFA status -- for one example, she traces back all our twenty-something characters at the beginning of the book to show what they were all doing, scattered across the country, on opening day of a Harry-Potter-type genre franchise movie that came out when they were all teenagers, before then bringing them all together as adults through things like shared college experiences and roommate hookups in the LA struggling-actor community -- but the problem is that she simply never does much with it all, a book with not enough plot to be a great story-based novel and with not interesting enough people to be a great character-based novel. About as slow and inconsequential as contemporary literature even gets, this is getting only a limited recommendation from me today, specifically for those who like genteel story arcs that feel just like the blase day-to-day events of their actual friends' lives.

Out of 10: 8.0 ( )
  jasonpettus | Jan 19, 2016 |
What a coincidence - I just finished "Station Eleven" before starting "In Some Other World, Maybe" and they both focus on graphic novels interweaving the plot which involves quite a number of protagonists. "Station Eleven" focus more on the apocalyptic setting which is echoed in its' graphic novel while ISOWM focuses more on the possible, parallel worlds the characters could have chosen by their actions which also echoes the parallel world shifting that is a feature of its' graphic novel.

The nature of contemplating what other possibilities the characters face sometimes is grating and repetitious. The plot covers 30 years from the release of the film version of the graphic novel to its' anniversary and there are several epoch marking events along the way. The authors of both of the novels I believe are younger and the best characters are young in both. This novel has quite a bit of the contemporary entertainment world flavor-of-the-week, cable series stars, Hollywood scene and has a shallow feel to it, which I guess is appropriate. To me, there was a bit too much melodrama, soap opera quality to the ending but I was satisfied to keep readling. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
Beautiful sad hopeless and hopeful. ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. It's one of the types of story lines that I tend to really like and it's particularly well done. A disparate group of characters are portrayed starting in late adolescence into their late thirties. They are connected in various ways, and we see their lives intersect as the few plot lines evolve. The concept is similar to Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings and a few other books I have read over the years. What pushed this one into a relatively rare 5 star rating for me is that I found myself really liking the characters -- despite all of their flaws and obvious blind spots -- and also enjoying their various stories and how they were connected. And the writing was lovely -- simple but elegant with its occasional clever repetitions, 2nd person narrative and reliance on the link to the Star Wars like movie all characters had seen--or not seen--in the opening chapter. I had the luxury of being able to read this book in a day while spending much time in airplanes and airports, and it was a great way to enjoy a book I would have had trouble putting down. Highly recommended for anyone who likes books in this genre. ( )
  Eesil | Nov 25, 2014 |
completed 11.2.14, 4 stars ( )
  bookmagic | Nov 2, 2014 |
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