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Note to Self: A Novel Hardcover – June 4, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Simone’s debut opens with 37-year-old Anna Krestler getting fired from her dead-end job at a New York law firm. Adrift in a sea of ennui, she surfs the Internet obsessively and tries to get close to her busy roommate, Brie, a twentysomething intern who is certain her big opportunity is just around the corner. Anna’s cybersurfing leads her to the work of auteur Paul Gilman, a director whose controversial work has a distinctly pornographic bent. Anna finds her way to Taj, a Gilman disciple who hires Anna (for no pay) to work as a production assistant on a series of wish-fulfillment shorts he’s shooting. Taj encourages Anna to pursue her own filmmaking aspirations, and their relationship takes a romantic turn, but she’s in for more than she bargained for when she agrees to go to Los Angeles with him. Simone captures Anna’s listless existence and her efforts to break out of her terminal inertia in this deft exploration of modern malaise. --Kristine Huntley


“Simone's is a wisecracking, mordantly observant, wide-awake voice. Even when the humor is bitter, there's something joyful in it--like hearing a direct dispatch from a neurotic person's consciousness.” ―Karen Russell, O Magazine

“With her first novel, musician and memoirist Alina Simone proves herself a hilariously whipsmart chronicler of thirtysomething creative ambition.” ―Scott Indrisek, Bookforum

Note to Self is goofy, sweet, and all the things you want in a coming-of-age story. There's redemption in all this quotidian depravity.” ―Jen Vafidis, The Daily Beast

“Simone captures Anna's listless existence and her efforts to break out of her terminal inertia in this deft exploration of modern malaise.” ―Kristine Huntley, Booklist

“The flavors of the book are sharp and sour, like a Chinese soup, and Alina Simone, a singer/songwriter, is clearly a novelist, too.” ―Nick Hornby, The Believer

“Simone . . . skewers the self-absorbed world in which Anna is caught up with incisive writing and her observations are often so clever they deserve reading aloud. The dénouement stuns more than it should, but by then readers will be standing in Anna's shoes.” ―Publishers Weekly

“The Internet has burrowed deep into our souls, and Alina Simone writes about it with radical honesty. Plus she's hilarious.” ―Amanda Palmer

“People as multi-talented and skilled as Alina Simone, who sings beautifully, writes essays, and now foists upon us a truly funny and poignant novel, need to be stopped. And maybe they will be, but in the meantime, there is no harm in falling into the soulful voice of Simone's narrator, Anna, as she struggles with the end of numb, cubicled youth and the awkward beginnings of new life.” ―Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts

Note to Self is smart, zany and sadly true about all that's truly sad about the state of human cognition in the digital age. Alina Simone has an extraordinary ear for the frenetic cadence and petty concerns of our times. She also has the heart and brains to point the way toward something more transcendent. I smiled, nodded, and shook my head in recognition all the way through.” ―Meghan Daum, author of Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House

“A remarkably assured debut . . . Wicked, witty.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Note to Self deftly dissects our Internet addiction, trawling the shallows of the 21st-century noncommittal mind in an engrossing story that both entertains and provokes. Alina Simone is a witty chronicler of our times.” ―Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865478996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865478992
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,635,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rita R. on July 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book. Gripping from the very beginning. Bittersweet. Funny and painful at the same time. The writing is vivid, smart, funny and entertaining.Simone is a master of detail,subtle observations and nuanced commentary on life on the internet and in the big city.Her social commentary is interesting and extremely enjoyable with astonishing breadth of cultural references frequently quite unexpected and paradoxical.And if you are after unexpected plot twists -- the book has that as well.
A must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gerryb on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Terrific read.

There are lots of books right now about young creatives in Brooklyn. This one is a real winner. Although the plot line meanders, the ending packs a nightmarish sucker punch- cruel, surprising and convincing. The main thing, though, is the pungent observations about ambition, sexuality, and power among desperate 30ish "interestings". I know this sounds just like "Girls, but Simone is adds a level of really poignant Chekovian humanism that enriches to the cool cynicism typical of the genre. In fact this juxtaposition is an important element in the book and what I love most about it. The protagonist is Anna Krestler, a sluggish, overweight internet addict. She is very vulnerable, lazy and can't do much career-wise except fantasize, until she meets the filmmaker Taj, the male lead in the book who takes her on a romantic and professional rollercoaster ride. Anna's nemesis is named Simone Weil. Simone is hip, cold, very attractive to men, a total art careerist but perhaps just as miserable as Anna. Put the two first names together and you get "Anna Simone" These characters seem to me to both be alter egos for the author Alina Simone. Put the two personas together and you have a tremendously well observed character. I felt the tugs in both directions viscerally. Taj's has relationships with both women. he is convincing as a simultaneous Svengali, good guy (at first), vicious operator and art star wannabe.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anna has lost her way in the real world. She has lost her job, and is rapidly losing ground spending time online. She has concocted a number of blue sky dreams for her next move in life. She has a lot of goals, but not too many plans for achieving them. Then she meets the prototype bad idea boyfriend, Taj. He hires her for his film company, but so far, it has cost her money.

This is hardly new ground. Thirty seven and lost in NY is an iconic situation for the current writing scene. However the observations are witty and fresh. Anna's inner stream of thought is enlivened by her own refusal to lie to herself past a certain point. "She was constantly being forced to agree something was awesome when that thing was at best mediocre some." Her employment is certainly a new area, one I am unfamiliar with. She has ventured into independent cinema. Situations are absurd, and the films are hardly alluring to watch.

All in all, this is an ok book. I would give it 3.5 stars for the sharpness of the dialogue. It is fun to read, and engaging in the plot. What else is summer for?
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John E. Branch Jr. on June 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
We've been examining the lives of our young adults at least since Gertrude Stein's "lost generation" pronouncement nearly 100 years ago. In a new novel, Alina Simone has taken a look at a particular 30-something who, while she's not meant to stand for an entire generation, is rather lost.

Anna Krestler is 37, and much is unsettled about her life. She hasn't finished paying for graduate school (in Slavic studies), which she didn't complete anyway, and she was overeducated for a job at a Midtown Manhattan law firm, but that doesn't matter now, because she just got fired. She has no husband, boyfriend, or sex partners, which sets her apart from her two close friends and her roommate. She weighs too much and thinks she may be depressed, but her insurance won't pay for much therapy. "Plus the medicine made you fat, didn't it? It destroyed your sex drive. One was faced with a miserable choice between sad, sexed up, and thin, or fat, sexless, and happy."

Anna's chief pursuit--apart from constantly questioning herself--exemplifies everything about her that's unfinished, unfocused, and lacking a discernible goal: the Internet. She sometimes gets up in the middle of the night to check email--where there's seldom anything new, but there's always that one unread message she's saving--and as for surfing the Web, we all know that can be a time suck.

This being a well-crafted and economical novel, not real life, Anna's computer-based wanderings do lead somewhere. She learns about a late bloomer (which she'd like to think she is) named Paul Gilman, who recently, at the age of 46, pioneered a style of short film that led him to bigger things. Gilman had used non-actors in pseudo-real situations and proudly told an interviewer, "I edited all of my films in-camera.
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Format: Hardcover
The character of Anna reminds me of Bridget Jones. Enjoyed some of the funny situations and circumstances Anna runs into (see yoga class with Leslie, her lunch with her suburban mother - and especially the addiction to all things internet). Some situations were too far afield for me - but I really chuckled. Anna has Bridget Jones' clumsy, quirky characteristics. Enjoyable!
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