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No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments Hardcover – June 8, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this engaging chronology spanning twenty years, from college to hard-won success, the award-winning playwright tells her story of searching for home. The once-aspiring performing artist explores the world through vastly different New York neighborhoods, a series of part-time jobs, an enviable stint at Julliard, and slowly increasing acclamation. She recognizes an undeniable wish in herself to separate from her mother, a wish complicated by the bonds of shared history and an illness in later life. Even after surviving being raped in her early twenties, and insisting on independence, Berman is consumed for years in a yo-yo like love affair. Her writing moves fluidly as she schleps from studio to loft to the occasional luxury apartment, while angst, always present, only occasionally becomes annoying.
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“Brooke Berman is the Real Deal: a miraculous, soul-seeking, honest artist who tells her story with humor, insight and a deep and abiding respect for this journey we call life. No Place Like Home is a gift to artists and dreamers everywhere who yearn to find their place in the daunting world of art, commerce, and real estate.”
—Rebecca Walker, author of Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, and Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self

“Brooke Berman's voice is utterly distinct, and her book, detailing her nomadic artist's journey toward both a successful playwriting career and a home of her own, through 20 years of cramped sublets, high-rise palaces, writer's colonies, and boyfriend's vans, is a hilarious, hopeful, and penetrating must-read.”
—Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Year of Yes

“Forget the yellow bricks, this road is paved with cheap futons and pull-out couches.   In her pursuit of love, art, and a place to call her own, Brooke Berman goes on a journey that’s as harrowing as it is hilarious.  Written with candor, honesty and a delicious self-deprecating wit, No Place Like Home proves to be an irresistible read.”
— David Lindsay Abaire, author of Rabbit Hole

“Compelling, original, and a fascinating portrait of life among young artists in New York City, No Place Like Home will resonate with readers who are searching to discover their own true “home.” That is, practically all of us.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

“Brooke's journey in this book is both terrifying and beautiful.  On her way to becoming an artist she loses her jobs, her lovers, her apartments, her belongings, and her Mother, but never her mind, and never her writer's soul.  Reading every page, I could hear her laugh at what her life threw at her.  Brooke is a brave, warrior woman in damned scary days, and I loved this careful accounting of her search for a safe place to lay her head.”
—Marsha Norman, Pultizer Prize-winning playwright and co-director of the Playwrights Program at Julliard

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307588424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307588425
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brooke Berman is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Originally trained as an actor and solo performer in the experimental theater, Brooke began performing her own work on the Lower East Side of Manhattan before receiving formal training in playwriting from the Juilliard School. Her play Hunting and Gathering, which premiered at Primary Stages, directed by Leigh Silverman, was named one of the Ten Best of 2008 by New York Magazine. NO PLACE LIKE HOME is her first book.

Brooke's plays have been produced and developed across the US at theaters including: Primary Stages, The Second Stage, Steppenwolf, The Play Company, Soho Rep, Williamstown Theater Festival, Naked Angels, MCC, WET, SPF, New Dramatists, New Georges, The Hourglass Group and the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. In the UK, her work has been developed at The Royal Court Theatre, The National Theatre Studio and Pentabus. Titles include: Hunting and Gathering, Smashing, Until We Find Each Other, The Triple Happiness, Sam and Lucy, A Perfect Couple, Out of the Water, The Jesus Year, Playing House, The Liddy Plays and others. Her plays are published by Broadway Play Publishing, Playscripts, Backstage Books and Smith & Kraus.

She has received numerous awards including: a Berilla Kerr Award, a Helen Merrill Award, two Francesca Primus Awards, two LeCompte du Nuoy awards and a commissioning grant from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. She recently completed a seven-year residency at New Dramatists, where she served on the Board of Directors. She has received support for her work from the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo and commissions from Arielle Tepper Productions and CTC in Minneapolis. Brooke's short play DEFUSION was included in Christine Jones's The Theater For One Project at New York Theatre Workshop and her short play Dancing with a Devil was part of the Humana Festival's "Life Under 30" production.

Brooke has taught as a guest artist in the New York City public school system and at colleges including Eugene Lang, Fordham, and Barnard, as well as privately through the "24 With 5 Teaching Collective" at New Dramatists. She spent five years as the Director of the Playwrights Unit for MCC Theater's Youth Company, a free after-school program for NYC youth. She has mentored with the Young Storytellers Foundation in Los Angeles and Young Playwrights in New York. Brooke attended Barnard College and is a graduate of The Juilliard School.

More information is available on her website: www.brookeberman.net

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How does a smart, upper middle class girl decide to quit college to conquer the competitive New York talent pool and become a credible playwright? I'm not sure why she decided to embark on an almost-homeless journey which, during her plight, involved 39 apartments, a rape, no money and a motley group of friends and acquaintances.

Ms. Berman's writing is excellent and she takes us from the beginning to a place of variant success and some conclusions. Her version of her Detroit area childhood is sketchy. Prompted by her parents' divorce her mother, Marilyn, moved out of their nice place to a lesser one. There are no details of the divorce but then she seems suddenly to be collecting her father's life insurance payments. Maybe I missed his death but she definitely has no significant memories of her father. The immutable Marilyn seems to be the crux of her need to vanish and tear herself from the constant barrage of her mother's need for absolute success and recognition.

Ms. Berman could have taken a conventional road and finished Barnard, remained in New York, away from her mother but instead refuted immense educational access and intelligence. She decides to abandon her paid education and subject herself to abject poverty and the incredible situation of not knowing where she would live next and if she could pay for another meal. She is smart, has a myriad of short-term jobs and finding a place to live in New York is a miraculous journey of survival and the willingness to give up privacy. I especially admired her humor, once referring to a second interview as a call-back for a room rental. She was able to write in any hovel or coffee shop she called home.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This memoir was not what I had expected. I was anticipating an interesting tale recounting the author's constant search for a suitable apartment in NYC, and that story is told here. However, too much of this book was distasteful to me and revealed the author to be a cold and selfish woman.
Berman writes about a man she knew, just a casual friend, but when he was ill she was obsessed with visiting him and was completely out of line and over the top about it. However, when a very dear friend who gave her a beautiful home for two years was diagnosed with cancer, Berman's reaction was pitiful. She would not give her friend any sympathy or attention at all. Instead she was annoyed that her friend's family was occupied with caring for their daughter rather than making sure Berman got to stay in the lavish apartment. Worse, when her mother needed her, Berman resolutely determined to stay away. She allowed her elderly grandmother to be the sole caretaker when her mother was dying. After her mother was safely dead and out of the way, she talks about how much she misses her.
There are plentiful examples throughout this book that further document Berman's self-absorption, and she spends too much time on New Age quackery. Not at all what I was interested in.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The thought of somebody living in 39 apts over a span of 20 yrs in NYC is mind-boggling in itself! And the book reads just like one: mind-bogglng. Every few pages she is suddenly at a new place, interspersed with so much bad karma (this possibly all can't happened to one person ... one person!) The sudden switch between places effectively reiterates the 'struggling artist' plight. But the writing does not suffer: it flows like an enjoyable conversation peppered with light-hearted moments; it's unbelievably real and down-to-earth. The only problem with the constant switching is that there are a lot of skimming, not enough dwelling over the defining moments to fully give the memoir depth. Instead one is left with a whirlwind of she was here then she was there then suddenly she succeeds, so in that aspect it's hard to digest the hardships of 20 yrs when she so easily jumped from moment to moment in a blink of an eye. Other than that, it's great casual reading!*
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Format: Hardcover
In "No place like home: A memoir in 39 Apartments," Brooke Berman chronicles her journey trying to "make it" in New York. Her dream is to be a working playwright, but that turns out secondary to staying alive. Berman first moves to New York at the tender age of 18, to attend Barnard College. However after dropping out, and having no one except her mother Marilyn to rely on, Berman begins apartment hunting.

Soon her New York dream is on the verge of becoming a nightmare: Berman is forced to keep switching apartments, living from job to job, and relying on strangers. If you ever wondered what it's like to follow your dreams and live as a starving artist, this book would be your answer.

The writing itself is full of raw honesty. Berman mentions a friend who ends up in a mental institution, an irresponsible boyfriend, a roommate whose sudden diagnosis leaves her nearly homeless, a mother who acts more like a child than a mother, and a certain episode that makes her afraid of ever living alone again.

This isn't a fairy tale, but a raw memoir about survival in New York. Overall, this is one of those books that leads you to reflect more about your own life. Recommended for fans of New York and contemporary non-fiction.
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