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Lost In Place: Growing Up Absurd in Suburbia Paperback – May 28, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The author of Iron and Silk looks back to his tortured youth with self-deprecating humor and wistful fondness. The oldest child in a middle-class household in Connecticut, the son of a piano teacher and a social worker, by age six the author was an eccentric with enormous aspirations - none of them ever fulfilled - who stood out not only from his more conventional parents and brother and sister but from everyone else in his suburban neighborhood. A hilarious memoir in the tradition of Russell Baker's Growing Up. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Salzman's memoir of his Connecticut childhood tells of his early adolescent devotion to Zen and Kung Fu.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 28, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679767789
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679767787
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
48%
4 star
44%
3 star
8%
2 star
0%
1 star
0%
See all 66 customer reviews
I would recommend this book to anyone who even slightly enjoys reading.
Jennifer Arnell
Teenagers will love it because they can relate to all the big questions being asked.
Jeff Dixon
Mark has a great tendency to thrust into things as you'll find out in the book.
Spencer Levy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Alix Ehlers (rosebud@planet.pouch.com) on April 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
I started reading Lost In Place one night when I couldn't sleep. I laughed so loud and long I awoke my husband sleeping upstairs who came down to check on why I was, he thought, wailing and weeping. Tears of amusement, certainly. There isn't a wrong note in this memoir. The gloomy father remarked upon in some customer reviews is hardly any gloomier than most fathers raising kids in the 70's and unlike a good many of them, he retained the deep love and respect of his son. I have given it to my own kids (16 and 19) to read, to kids graduating from high school this year. A friend of my sixteen-year-old read it in two days and it was the only nonrequired book she read all year. For those who grew up in the 70's it will strike one kind of chord; for any adolescent it is a shining example of how becoming caught up in an obsession, of training oneself (voluntarily), of learning everything you can about something can turn out to be the most important thing you ever do. Comic books, kung fu, BB guns, decorating teeshirts--these are paths to Yale as surely as being the scholar/athlete held out as exemplars by our high schcols.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By john_cook@sterling.com on September 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
We read this for our book group and everyone in the group -- folks from about 50 into their early 70's -- thought it was great. Salzman captures the mind of the teenage boy and presents it in a wonderfully well written story. I had finished it and my wife then kept me awake for two nights with her chuckles as she read it. The mother in the story does not get much press but she is the real hero in Mark's life. She supports each of his youthful plunges into finding his way in life from the little kid in the box playing like a captain on a space mission to his leaving high school a year early after getting himself into Yale before graduating from high school. I am certain that we would have never seen this wonderful book had it not been for his mother and her fierce support for Mark as he worked through life "Absurd in Suburbia."
I have read two of his other books and have just ordered the only one that I have not yet read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Xoe Li Lu VINE VOICE on January 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who has enjoyed Mark Salzman's book and subsequent film "Iron and Silk" will love the glimpse at Salzman's adolescence offered in "Lost in Place." This warm and honest introspective look at the author's childhood is charming and funny. The author's love of martial arts and all things Asian manifested itself early, and Salzman's accomplishments as an adult have blossomed from his early eccentricities. Salzman was a bizarre kid, and this fact makes for terrific storytelling (at one point, he attempted to become a Zen monk, living austerely in the basement of his family home). The author has a natural, easy-going writing style that is at the same time intelligent and concise. He admits to the stranger moments of his adolescence with grace and dignity, and treats his accomplishments humbly. "Growing Up Absurd" is such a terrific story - Salzman's early teen experiences make a case for the adage "from humble beginnings come great things!." With a childhood like this (weird as he was), it's easy to see how Salzman grew up to be a great writer and filmmaker.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Spencer Levy on May 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
If you like stories about other people's lives and their amusing mishaps this book is for you. Mark Salzman tells the tall of his usual at times hilarious life Imagine growing up in middle class Connecticut with not so usual dreams. From the time Mark was seven he has dreamt of being a famous concert cellist. Unfortunately as the years pass he loses interest in the cello but his mom pressures him into staying with it. Mark has a great tendency to thrust into things as you'll find out in the book. In my opinion this was a great read; and I am by no means a reader but this book went by relatively quickly. I found that I related really well to Mark and I think other guy and girls my age will find his mishaps funny.
After watching his first Kung fu movie Mark Salzman decides his goal and dream in life is to achieve enlightenment and nirvana like the kung fu masters in the movie. He decides to turn the basement into a Zen meditation shrine. This in my opinion is one of the funniest parts of the book. He decides to furnish the basement with "Chinese artifacts" from the cooking supply store. In actuality it is the only store where there is anything even remotely Chinese. He also found the need to look like an old kung fu master and gets a bald wig in the back of a comic book, but unfortunately for him it is grey and looks nothing like a skin tone. He also tries to dye his pajama pants black, but that too goes wrong. The dye ends up not setting and Mark is left with purple pajama pants. Through the intense fog of incense Mark studies the Kung Fu forms from books he had got at the local library.
When he starts high school he also decides to start taking kung fu lessons. This is because he starts watching of all the Chinese kung fu movies.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By MR LIAM B KEELEY on August 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is an absolute gem. How often do you come across a martial arts book that is not just well written but genuinely, heartbreakingly funny? Mr. Salzman has already shown us he can write in his first book, Iron and Silk, the story of his two years spent in China teaching English and practicing wushu with Pan Qing Fu. The book was later made into a critically acclaimed film of the same name. In Lost in Place, the author lets us in on the secrets of his adolescence. Anyone who has ever been seized by the desire to shave his head, dye his pyjamas purple, and abandon the fast food of suburbia for the wandering life of a Zen monk will love this book.

We follow Salzman through the perils of teenage life, goofing off at school and then frantically trying to make up, agonizing about dates, buying his first car, choosing what to study at university, and in general giving his long suffering family a hard time, and all of this while struggling between Eastern and Western worldviews. We meet some strange people he encountered in his attempts to become a Bruce Lee clone, such as the ominous Sensei O'Keefe, the rowdy and foul-mouthed master of the Chinese Boxing Institute, with his dreaded brainwave, "cemetery sparring". Apart from the stories of Salzman's various martial art experiences, some hilarious and some appalling, there are some well drawn scenes of his interaction with his father, who is described as a good natured pessimist, probably not a bad thing to be for someone forced to compete with the glamorous Bruce Lee for his son's affections. There is a lovely scene of his father listening to an outpouring of his son's existential angst. We get a picture of a gentle, mature man with a nice sense of irony. He must be proud now of how his son has turned out. Salzman has written four critically acclaimed novels, one of which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Review Award. He is a great storyteller and this book will not let you down.
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