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114 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece
I'm a huge fan of Alice Mcdermott and this is clearly her finest work. If not already recognized as one of America's finest writers, Someone will establish her credentials for generations to come. As stated in Roxanna Robinson's rave review in the Washington Post "This kind of novel is necessary to us...This kind of knowledge expands our understanding, it enlarges our...
Published 17 months ago by Eric

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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BIG FAN BUT NOT MY FAVORITE
I think Alice McDermott is one of the finest writers living today. That said, this book just didn't touch me like her others have. I had no problem getting through it, as her writing is supurb, but I did not get attached to the title character and I didn't like the way the book jumped around in time. It also just ended - I felt cheated. At Weddings and Wakes is one of...
Published 17 months ago by FourthDaughter


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114 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, September 10, 2013
This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Hardcover)
I'm a huge fan of Alice Mcdermott and this is clearly her finest work. If not already recognized as one of America's finest writers, Someone will establish her credentials for generations to come. As stated in Roxanna Robinson's rave review in the Washington Post "This kind of novel is necessary to us...This kind of knowledge expands our understanding, it enlarges our souls." I just finished Someone but given the richness of Alice McDermott's prose and the poetry of each line I'm certain to return to it again and again.
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112 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do yourself a favor, September 10, 2013
This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Hardcover)
This writer has won the National Book Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize three times. I know, I know, "past performance is no guarantee..." but still,
McDermott has done it again. Don't be surprised if this novel acts as a magnet for prizes. It's like a perfect miniature, with not a wasted word. The prose is flawless, and
flows like water downhill. It's as if a certain very famous female Canadian short story writer had written a novel. Do yourself a favor and read this novel.
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90 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I know that "Someone", September 15, 2013
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This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Hardcover)
Well, for me, Alice McDermott has done it again: taken me back to the Brooklyn of my childhood. While not of the
ages of her characters, however, I can attest to the complex family dynamics that Ms. McDermott describes. It's
interesting that she references Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church. I was baptized there and attended
released time for religious instructions at the school since I went to public school. The drinking and boozing.
Yes, I'm quite familiar with that activity having been raised in the "projects" by an alcoholic grandmother. Alice McDermott reminds me of a New York-ish James Joyce when she presents the residents of the block: the cripple,
the blind, the dysfunctional, and the most likely homosexual priest, Gabe. In my early years in lower Brooklyn,
I knew Dave with a deformed hand (he was also a raging alcoholic who lived with his two kids in the apartment
next door), Carol whose arm had been burned when she wound up, as a kid, being scalded with hot tea. Another
girl wore "Coke bottle glasses" that did nothing to remedy her cross-eyes. We played with ALL the kids, and
their limitations did not bother us one little bit. Alice McDermott captures that era, that time, when we
were innocent and carefree. Stickball, jacks, hit the stick, potsy, and splitting a popsickle with your best
friend. McDermott has brought me back to the 50's and many memories, both good and bad. Thanks.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Restraint, September 24, 2013
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This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was blown away by Alice McDermott's novel, Someone. In a compact 240 pages, she presents the full and interesting life of an ordinary woman, protagonist Marie Commeford. McDermott presents scenes from childhood, adolescence, marriage, motherhood and old age, to reveal the richness of life, love and family. Through stripping away anything unnecessary, McDermott allows readers to enter into a time period (post World War II) and a place (Brooklyn) that combine to reveal the depth of emotion and human experience that can be found in the most ordinary lives. Readers who lived as Brooklyn Irish Catholics will note that McDermott captures the essence of that life. Any reader who appreciates well-written prose will likely enjoy this superb novel.

Rating: Five-star (I love it)
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quietly terrific, September 18, 2013
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This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Hardcover)
A master work. Even better than the other Alice McDermott's I've read.

One detail stands out for me. When narrator Marie finally finds a husband (Tom) and is safely in bed with him on her wedding night in a hotel room (with sheets smelling faintly of bleach), she says: "For one of us, we knew, we were certain--this is how we saw the world--there would never again be loneliness. For Tom, it turned out."

This critical observation is never mentioned again. Marie's loneliness is never fleshed out, or described in any way, yet it continues hold sway over the rest of the book. This is what Alice McDermott is so good at, conveying the deepest emotions indirectly, quietly, with just a slight shift of the hip or raise of an eyebrow.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BIG FAN BUT NOT MY FAVORITE, September 26, 2013
This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Hardcover)
I think Alice McDermott is one of the finest writers living today. That said, this book just didn't touch me like her others have. I had no problem getting through it, as her writing is supurb, but I did not get attached to the title character and I didn't like the way the book jumped around in time. It also just ended - I felt cheated. At Weddings and Wakes is one of my favorite books of all time. I will still buy anything she writes, but I was a little disappointed in this book.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reader will not want this book to end!, December 2, 2013
This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Audio CD)
This is such a marvelous, easy to read story told through Marie's memories as she looks back over the years recalling the things that were meaningful in her life. It is told in an uncomplicated, simple, straight-forward way in which all life-cycle events, some major and some minor, play a role. As the pages turn, we witness births, deaths, tragedies, joys, marriages, illnesses, milestones and setbacks, dreams and nightmares. Family devotion and loyalty, sibling rivalry and sibling love, parental responsibility and parental abuse, success and failure, hopes and aspirations, anxiety and desperation, all appear on the pages as naturally as if they were happening to us, as well as the characters.
The author has a way with words so that the story lifts off the page and the reader is transported to the time and place in Brooklyn, where Marie was raised in a tight knit Irish immigrant neighborhood. So accurately does she describe the life, in the home and on the street, in the workplace and in the church, in the medical facilities and in the school, that I was reminded of my own years growing up in Brooklyn, watching my brother study for a career while I was expected to be a secretary or a teacher, since not all avenues were open to women then, and I was filled with nostalgia for that simpler time when neighbors actually not only knew each other, but they cared about each other, even as they gossiped and created rumors. They talked to each other almost every day as they lived in communities where neighborliness was the norm.
The warmth of the experience is so real and so accurate that the reader will feel as if they have been set down on Marie's street, possibly in front of her stoop, or perhaps joining the children as they play in the street, possibly offering sympathy at a wake, showing respect for the deceased, maybe visiting at the hospital, comforting a neighbor, sharing the trials they are experiencing right along with them, possibly witnessing the new bride as she exits her home and enters the waiting limousine, or maybe even throwing rice at the happy couple as they leave the church. The description of the mischievous children, complete with their often obvious cruelty as they learned to navigate the world, is so perfect that I could almost feel their taunts were directed at me. The day to day life with all of its tragedies and joys is described so matter-of-factly, so naturally, that the reader is not just watching, but is participating in all the events, the death of a child, the death of a parent, the mental illness that effects some families, the rumors and gossip that pervade the air when there are secrets.
To be sure, the author is fair, she also describes the decay that crept into many of these neighborhoods, as years passed, the infestation of roaches, the urban blight that took over and destroyed these communities as upward mobility became de rigeur, and neighbors moved on to other boroughs, parts of the Bronx, Queens and Long Island, in search of a better life. There, they also encountered a more solitary, disconnected life, a life in which neighbors no longer fully interacted with each other and no one knocked on the door to visit because that became an intrusion rather than a friendly call.
The Marie who is remembering is now a weaker version of herself, practically blind, elderly and frail, but in her youth, she was once a headstrong, sometimes recalcitrant child, determined to do as she wanted, defiant in her own way, sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of stubbornness, but always willful and always strong. Marie and her brother Gabe are opposites. He is obedient, on his way to the seminary to become a Priest and she is disobedient, defiant, often tells little lies simply because she can. The family is close. The neighborhood homes have the stoops of my childhood, the subways I took to work, the delis I frequented. It was a time when mothers were home cooking, teaching their children the things they needed to learn to face their futures. McDermott describes the neighborhood oddities, the retarded children that the fit and hearty would avoid looking at, the afflicted and the demented that inhabit all neighborhoods along with the healthy and rational. Nothing is left out and yet nothing is extraneous. The author's descriptions so clearly illustrate the lifestyle that I could readily picture it, remember it and return to the time in my own memory, reliving with nostalgia, my own childhood, waiting for my dad to come home, sitting down as a family to dinner, my mom washing out my mouth with soap for speaking out of turn, watching my brother study and my sister date, my neighbor's wedding day as she dressed as a bride, throwing rice, the terror of the ambulance as it appeared on the street for it could not bode well for anyone we knew, the group games organized casually in the street, just sitting on the stoop watching the occasional car appear, and watching the ordinary occurrences of everyday life that the author so easily illustrates on every page.
The author has brought the struggles and triumphs of an immigrant family to life, brilliantly, and while it could have been depressing, it was told in such a way as to be uplifting, leaving the reader with an inspiring view about the effect of honest effort and hard work because it led to the fulfillment of dreams. Their dreams were realistic; they took baby steps, not giant steps, to achieve their goals, and they appreciated what life provided. Each generation surpassed the one before it.
As the book opens with a focus on an untimely death, it closes with the impending death of the elderly narrator, which is in the natural order of things, but most important, the book is the story of a life well lived.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like thumbing randomly through "someone's" photo album, February 11, 2014
This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
This is a quiet and thoughtful novel that rings true on many fronts. At first the non-sequential organization can be a bit of a challenge, as you find yourself asking, ok, now how old is Marie as she is relating this episode. But after you get the hang of it, you realize that is truly the nature of "someone's" memories - they don't come in any order or sequence. Memories just come flooding back at random, hopscotching through our lives. The symbolism of Marie's near blindness is built upon throughout the story, as the reader and Marie come to realize there is much that we don't see very clearly as we are busy living our daily lives, yet much that we do see as we reflect on things gone by. I liked the way the author allows the reader to draw his/her own conclusions about growing up in Brooklyn, life in the Catholic Church, medical and psychological customs in the mid-20th century, and attitudes towards life, death, family, sexuality and the casual cruelty of children. This is actually a fairly deep book, that started out slowly but grew on me at the end. I think the last chapter is the strongest - which is perhaps a good thing to say about a book.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars luminous, September 15, 2013
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This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
I could not put this book down, and I was stunned when it ended. I had been living it, breathing it, inhabiting its narrow world. Extraordinary.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Dislike Having to Disagree with Chris Roberts...But, September 17, 2013
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This review is from: Someone: A Novel (Hardcover)
I have wanted to do this for a long time. Wanted to use this space not only to praise this book but to tell readers who go to his one-star reviews that he is pure satirist. Look at it this way, Chris Roberts is doing what banning books did back when: making readers want to read the book.
With that said, I will tell you that I could not put this book down.
I am not really that enthusiastic, at times, about reading books set in Ireland or about Irish-Americans because, let's face, it they are often as bleak and as harsh in their treatment of people as apparently is the place itself. But this book is different, one that reflects the old country as the first-generation-ers become Americanized.
About the title: you will not know what it means until you get to the end of the first part--and and is many pages in. But it is worthwhile.
Now, in spite of--or maybe because of Chris Roberts' view of Maria--I want to explain that she is a person who might, were she to actually exist, be a person one would not necessary get to know. She is not attractive. She has to wear glasses. And she is overshadowed by the older brother who is the scholarly one, the one who is destined to marry a nice girl or, since he is a Roman Catholic and devout, go into the priesthood.
There is a young man in the neighborhood--this is set in New York City--named Walter (they are seemingly all Irish-Americans) who has a shortened leg, not allowing him to play stick ball with the other boys in the neighborhood. So it would seem only natural for Walter and Marie to find things in common. And they do. But I'll not tell about that.
Here is a paragraph from the novel (page 79), somewhat near the end of part one (I will not put quotes around it, letting the colon do the work of saying this is Alice McDermott's paragraph: I sat on the edge of the bed. I wanted to take my glasses off, fling them across the room. To tear the new hat from my head and fling it, too. Put my hands to my scalp and peel off the homely face. Unbutton the dress, unbuckle the belt, removed the frail slip. I wanted to reach behind my neck and unhook the flesh from the bone, open it along the zipper of my spine, step out of my skin and fling it to the floor. Back shoulder stomach and breast. Trample it. Raise a fist to God for how He had shaped me in that first darkness: unlovely and unloved.
Okay, you have met Maria in this.
And now, please, enjoy a laugh by going to that one-star review by Chris Roberts. And drop him a little comment. But be kind because the guy is funny.
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Someone: A Novel
Someone: A Novel by Alice McDermott (Hardcover - September 10, 2013)
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