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Almost Like Being in Love: A Novel Paperback – May 11, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kluger's latest epistolary novel (after the well-received Last Days of Summer) is an engrossing, often laugh-out-loud tale of two unlikely lovers. High school jock Craig McKenna and Broadway musical-obsessed Travis Puckett fall in love during their senior year at the Beckley School in Tarrytown, N.Y., spend a summer in Manhattan, then drift tearfully away to different colleges: Travis to USC, Craig to Harvard. Twenty years later, oddball Travis, now a history professor at his alma mater, is a favorite with students thanks to some unorthodox teaching methods, but he's laughably unlucky in love. An injury ended Craig's college football career, and he's now an upstate New York attorney with activist inclinations and a soft spot for runaways. He's also about to marry long-term boyfriend Clayton-though he's never forgotten his first romance. As Travis wades through the dating pool (most of his dates score badly on his "Boyfriend Checklist") and doles out advice to his straight screenwriter roommate Gordo, Craig takes on the biggest case of his life: a run for the state assembly. When Travis becomes determined to reunite with Craig, he sets off on a wild cross-country adventure, providing perfect fodder for Gordo's ultimate screenplay. In true fairy-tale fashion, Travis insinuates himself back into Craig's life, but will the pair end up happily ever after? Though the narrative is overlong, Kluger keeps it absorbing with a parade of newspaper articles, letters, diary entries, checklists, court transcripts and charts, all composed to brilliant comic and dramatic effect.
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About the Author

Steve Kluger has written extensively on subjects as far-ranging as World War II, rock 'n' roll, and the Titanic, and as close to the heart as baseball and the Boston Red Sox. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; First Edition edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060595833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060595838
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael T. Rognlien VINE VOICE on September 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I started this book, I was a bit leary of reading an entire story full of narratives and articles, as I'd never been presented a novel in that storytelling format.

Having read the book in one sitting, though, I can say with confidence that it worked extremely well. Mr. Kluger has a natural sense of comic timing and wit, without being excessively catty or bitchy in the process. While I would have liked a bit more at the end of the book (after so much buildup, it felt rushed) the journey with the characters was well worth the somewhat stilted ending.

If it's any help, after reading this, my first Kluger novel, I bought the rest of his catalog on Amazon. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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Format: Paperback
Saying a book is a summer book usually means it's fun, but brainless. Nothing could be further from the truth when talking about Almost Like Being In Love. Mr. Kluger's book is certainly fun and easy to read, but what makes it a summer book is the heartwarming, breezy tale of a love that has to be despite the odds against it. Like Last Days of Summer (Mr. Kluger's previous book) Almost is cleverly told through an endlessly imaginative array of emails, letters, newspaper clippings, menus, and, my favorite, the boyfriend checklist.
The more I read of the book, the more I wanted to learn how everything turned out, especially since Mr. Kluger set himself the challenge of giving us a happy ending when someone had to be hurt at the end. Yet, he does it and you walk away from Almost Like Being in Love feeling that life can be great and love does sometimes win in the end. I hope that this book is as big a hit as Last Days of Summer despite it's gay content. Only a grinch (or conservative Republicans as I call them) could not read this book and feel good at the end.
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Format: Paperback
*In case you can't tell from the length, I really, really loved this novel, and if this review helps ONE person make the decision to buy and read this gem, I'll feel as if my day has been well-spent.*

The more I read, the more my sense of inner horror threatened to erupt. With each turned page, a heavy sense of despair and foreboding settled over my mind. "Was the book that bad?" you ask me. I reply with a resounding "No!" "Why, then, were you horrified? Why, then, were you despairing?" you question. "Because," I answer, "with each flip of a page, I was one page closer to the end."

Stereotypes are misunderstood. They're so often used because they're so often true. I'm about to use a valid one now, in fact: there are two types of gay novels, and surprisingly enough, they follow the ancient Greek theories on theater. There is the gay drama, which must include at least two gay-bashings (one of which often results in death), at least one failed suicide attempt, forty-seven deaths by AIDS, and the Romance to End All Romances nipped in the bud by prejudice, suicide, AIDS, or all of the above. Gay drama is almost always synonymous with 'gay tragedy,' is almost always political, and often has a Moral -- to awaken people to the terrors of gay prejudice and change the course of society. Almost Like Being In Love (which I will from now on refer to as ALBIL) is not of the gay drama variety (thank God). No, ALBIL is a gay comedy. These are, like Austen's Pride and Prejudice, "light & bright & sparkling," usually quite literally, since they often have flashy covers. Gay comedies, while they may touch on some serious issues, never confront them directly and approach them only through a lens tinted with laughter.
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Format: Paperback
This book is often unrealistic and less than subtle, not to mention overly optimistic and sometimes nauseatingly cute. On the other hand, would you expect otherwise from a romance novel?

The wildly romantic tale glides along on sheer charm. It's a playful, fun story filled out with endearing major and minor characters-- Travis's roommate Gordo's correspondences with his father comprise some of the funniest moments. Moreover, Kluger actually throws in some twists and turns, none of which are wholly original, but which do keep the story fresh and interesting through the end.

All in all: You aren't going to impress any lit crit majors at cocktail parties, and the novel does require some suspension of disbelief. But it is a fast, breezy read, ideal for the beach or airplane. I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.
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Format: Paperback
I devoured this book and found myself getting miffed at life's duties that took me away from it (sleeping, driving kids, making meals, etc.) I would have read it all in one sitting had I only been able to.
Steve Kluger can take baseball and flagrant, in-your-face gayness (two subjects that probably wouldn't jump off the bookshelf at me) and make me beg for more. Kluger's ability to use nonconventional ways to portray his characters is uncanny. His characters are intriguingly developed and brought to life through diary entries, faxes, memos, emails, menus, and even court documents. His ability to create a cohesive story with only a miniscule amount of narrative is wondrous. Very few authors could have made this strategy work, and Kluger was clearly successful!
Kluger's affection for his characters is clear and contagious. He makes them all very human and he deals with their foibles with endearing warmth and humor. He also demonstrates to us that this conglomeration of varied characters is a family in the true sense of the word. The amount of caring and compassion and acceptance illustrated in this book could easily be a lesson to all of us, no matter what orientation, preference, gender, religion, or politics we follow. Although it doesn't initially look or sound like it, this is a book about family values, friendship, support, and loyalty.
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