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Normal People Don't Live Like This Paperback – September 22, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 181 pages
  • Publisher: Persea (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892553545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892553549
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #361,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Some delicious writing. . . .Buy this for your literary fiction readers and short story fans.” (Ellen Loughran - Booklist)

“[A] lean, beguiling novel in stories. . . .Elegantly written.” (Eryn Loeb - Bookforum)

“The characters in Dylan Landis's debut story collection, Normal People Don't Live Like This, are blessedly extraordinary.” (Elissa Schappell - Vanity Fair)

“The tales in this bravura work are timeless: They could easily belong to our daughters’ generation instead of our own.” (More magazine)

“Watch [Landis] very carefully. Once you can create characters like Leah (or Angeline, Rainey and Helen), there's no stopping you.” (Susan Salter Reynolds - Los Angeles Times)

About the Author

Dylan Landis has published stories in Bomb, Tin House, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and elsewhere. A former journalist, she has won a Poets & Writers California Voices Award and other honors for her fiction. She lives in Washington, DC.

More About the Author

Dylan Landis is the author of the novel RAINEY ROYAL (Soho Press), which The New York Times called "captivating and unnerving." She also wrote the novel-in-stories NORMAL PEOPLE DON'T LIVE LIKE THIS, a Newsday Top Ten Book of 2009 and a More magazine choice for Top 100 Books Every Woman Should Read. ("The characters...are blessedly extraordinary," wrote Vanity Fair's Elissa Schappell.) A former journalist & author of six interior-design books, Landis has won a 2010 fellowship from the National Endowment from the Arts. Visit her at DYLANLANDIS.COM.

Customer Reviews

Her characters intriguing and complex.
Heather Holland Wheaton
While flipping the pages of this book eagerly, I couldn't seem to put it down, and finished it on the same day I started it.
M. Gibbs
I found the characters really rang true and I also found myself caring very deeply about them.
Fan Mail Writer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No spoilers in this review.

I am usually not a short story fan, but I do enjoy them when they are linked either by character or place. Through the stories in this book we follow the lives of Leah Levinson, an awkward and sensitive adolescent and her mother Helen, a borderline anorexic with a need for order and cleanliness.

The book starts out in the 1960's, and we know this by references to Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix and other bands from that era. In the first story we are introduced to a girl named Rainey as she is being seduced by a friend of her father. She is very aware of her sexual appeal, more so than she should be at the age of 13.

By the next story we meet Leah, who is being bullied by Rainey and another girl. Leah appears just the opposite of Rainey - Leah seems physically immature and unattractive, and her parents seem protective and caring. Leah also has a compulsive need to tap and count.

But we know that there are problems at home, and Leah's mother Helen has an eating disorder. As we travel in time and follow Leah and Helen, we come to realize that both Leah's and Helen's need for order and control belie the turmoil and disarray inside. These stories take us through the development of these characters, as they become more self-aware and understanding of their own needs.

This book is beautifully written, and I think most readers will find passages where they will empathize with one or more characters. Landis truly captures the angst of an awkward adolescence, and the pain and anguish of reaching middle age without having figured out what makes you happy.

This book can be very bleak and dark. If you are looking for a light read, or a beach book - this isn't it.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By mn on September 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a lot of half-read short story collections on my shelf. Really good stuff. I "appreciate" them, but I'm rarely driven to finish them. I love novels, worlds I can live inside for awhile.

This book of stories is more like a novel. When one story ends, you're compelled on to the next. You do not want to put the book down at all. If you can handle the intensity. I read it in two sittings (would have been one if I wasn't in the middle of painting my porch).

When I say intensity, I mean these stories do not look away. The main character, Leah, is a young girl who's frightened and fascinated by the whole feast of life--friendship, sex, death and the power of beauty. And Leah cannot keep her hand out of the flame. She is always heading straight into the heart of her fear until a surprisingly steely strength begins to emerge. Her eye is hyperobservant--it gets all the details of surface right (oh, does she know how battered high school jeans are supposed to fit and how chic Manhattan apartments are supposed to look)--but she also makes us feel the biologic reality that surface covers and the undertow of death the whole show is floating on.

Several stories are also about other characters in Leah's world--a sexually precocious friend, Leah's mother--and these are just as wonderful.

So, there's all that... and then there's the writing itself. Let's just say it's kind of dazzling.

...
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John W. Chambers on September 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a fascinating, engaging, wonderful book! I should begin by saying truthfully that I could hardly put it down. I believe the author has created another Catcher in the Rye. Leah Levinson's teenage anxiety, budding sexuality, and the bildungsroman Landis has written gives us insight into teenage girls just as Holden Caulfield provided into teenage boys in an earlier era.
In addition to the insights and compelling stories, I love the prose. There are a million little gems in this short book. Dotting them as I read along, I almost wore out my pencil. "The butts in her ashtray were all kissed red at one end and bent jagged at the other." Or "His tone was gentle, a flag in a light breeze." There are just so many sparkling nuggets, I can't list them all.
I enjoyed the book immensely and gained much insight from it, and I guess a reader could not ask more than that.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on January 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this book. After a bit of a shaky start, I was drawn into this book and the lives of its incredibly well developed characters. If, like me, you have a moment of difficulty "getting into" the first chapter/story, persevere! You will not be disappointed. The main character in the book is so well crafted, that she truly seems to spring to life from the pages of the book. By the end of the book, I felt that I knew the character so well that it was actually sad to see the book end and the character "disappear" - - I wanted more.
I read this book in one sitting - - something I very rarely do. It was that great!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Gibbs on December 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
While flipping the pages of this book eagerly, I couldn't seem to put it down, and finished it on the same day I started it. Landis creates compelling characters in her ten short stories that drive the reader eat up the book. With great depth of character, the author takes you on a journey with her fabulously crafted characters. With intensive attention to detail and fabulous imagery, this is a short story collection that draws in the reader and doesn't let go until the very last page.
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