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This Is Where We Live: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 15, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, June 15, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Married 30-something artists Claudia and Jeremy Munger are the unlucky anchors of Brown's shaky sophomore novel, an of-the-moment time capsule in the mold of her well-received All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. Claudia is a filmmaker whose first feature is about to be released; Jeremy is a musician on the brink of mainstream success; together they are living in boho splendor in a newly purchased L.A. bungalow. But when Claudia's film bombs, Jeremy's band breaks up, their adjustable rate mortgage balloons, and Jeremy's famous painter ex-girlfriend, Aoki, comes back on the scene, the Mungers' sense of themselves is harshly tested. The gauntlets the Mungers face verge on Kafkaesque, yet the novel proceeds with painful earnestness. Particularly detracting are the one-note supporting characters: Jeremy and Claudia's parents, an annoying roommate, the corpulent potential producer of Claudia's next film. Aoki, meanwhile, plays a pivotal role but is burdened with a heavy load of temperamental artist clichés. There are lovely small moments—Claudia's awkward run-in with a former student, for instance—that give hope that the undeniably talented author will find her footing again after this flawed effort. (June)
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From Booklist

Brown's skillful follow-up to her well-received debut (All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, 2008) is set in L.A. and opens with a minor earthquake, signaling the fissure that's about to open up in the marriage between Claudia, an aspiring filmmaker, and Jeremy, an aspiring musician. Career setbacks and the reappearance of Jeremy's former flame aren't the only cracks in their foundation. The couple is also saddled with debt, and foreclosure looms. Their differing reactions to this crisis suggest how far both are willing to compromise their dreams to save their home. Alternating between Claudia's and Jeremy's perspectives, Brown proves adept at fully inhabiting both male and female characters in her sympathetic portrait of a troubled marriage. She also elevates her material with sharp cultural observations and pointed commentary on the current economy while gamely tackling what it means to be a grown-up and how our idea of who we think we should be gets in the way of who we really are. At once playful and heartbreaking, this novel never feels less than wholly true. --Patty Wetli

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (June 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038552403X
  • ASIN: B008SLCE0C
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,038,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Janelle Brown is the author of the nationally bestselling ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING, published in May 2008 by Spiegel & Grau, as well as in a dozen other countries across the world. An essayist and journalist, her writing appears regularly in Vogue, The New York Times, Elle, Wired, Self, The Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. Previously, she spent five years as a senior writer at Salon, covering a diverse range of subjects -- from Internet culture to the war on drugs, pop culture to style, public policy issues and the digital music movement-- and began her career as a staff writer at Wired, working on seminal Web sites like HotWired and Wired News during the heydey of the dotcom boom. In the 1990's, she was also the editor and co-founder of Maxi, an irreverent (and now, long-gone) women's pop culture magazine. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, filmmaker Greg Harrison.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
No sophomore slump, here. Janelle Brown follows up ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS EVERYTHING with a book similar in premise (spoiled white folk lose everything) but far, far different in its ultimate destination. There is a generosity of character here that allows the reader to feel for the two protagonists even when they make ridiculous choices that could render them unlikable in less nimble hands. Another nice thing about THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE is that it becomes a richer, deeper experience as it goes, rather than losing steam in the final third, as so many novels seem to. The climax is realistic and satisfying; the dialogue at it's most raw and real in the latter half of the book when all Hell has broken loose. Brown is a gifted writer falling somewhere between froth and bona-fide literature. It's a great combo and here's hoping she takes a lot of time between books to hone her skills rather than becoming a bestseller factory like so many young authors seem to these days.
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Format: Hardcover
`This Is Where We Live' is filled with symbolism. It begins with an earthquake that leaves the home of Claudia and Jeremy cracked and the foundations of their house creaking and their marriage soon is in shambles too. Claudia adores her husband Jeremy, but he remembers with more frequency his previous lover Aoki who is now a famous artist.
At issue is their house that they are about to lose, and their marriage soon follows. One of them wants a regular home life and the other a life more filled with risks and spontaneity. The chapters bounce back and forth between Claudia and Jeremy and their views on what is occurring in their life. The main problem in their life is the house - to save it and then do they save their marriage? At first they are characters that you could care about, but their depth never really develops and by the end of the 316 pages it doesn't seem to matter to them or you the reader what their resolution for their existence is. They have become one dimensional and they seem immature in their connections and dealings with each other and all that surrounds them.
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Format: Hardcover
I finished this book in a couple of days, a couple of months ago. Janelle Brown, as her fan base knows from her earlier book and journalism writing, is a super fluid, super fun writer who nails the way people speak. Her story is about an arty couple in LA who have what's best described as "good problems" (how to be artful and make money and not get bored with your marriage and not drive drunk in Los Angeles too often). They're the type of irresistible characters so many of us know, and often like than we probably should, in both real life and in fiction. There's one character, the crazy ex-girlfriend, who I'm sure a whole bunch of actors are drooling over playing right now. In years to come, "This Is Where We Live" will be perfect book to read to recall life as some folks are living it now -- sort of like the movie "Singles" for 2010. I also suspect fans of Nick Hornby will be fans of Janelle Brown.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was REALLY looking forward to Ms.Brown's second book. I loved "All we ever wanted was everything," and was thrilled to find out she had a new one out. Unfortunately, I feel that "This is where we live" was a complete disappointment. Where her first novel was a creative, intelligent twist on breezy beach reads, this novel was a poor attempt at the same genre. This book seemed very formulaic, lacked interesting characters and featured story lines that seemed to be tied together without any thought. Overall, I truly felt let down by this novel, and that Ms. Brown simply slapped together a few hundred pages relying on the success of her first novel to carry this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was excited about reading "This Is Where We Live" because I live in Los Angeles and I'm an obsessive old house DIYer. I came away from the book feeling conflicted. As other readers have commented, Ms. Brown is a talented writer and the words really flow. My problem was with the characters, which to me were too simplistic to really contribute to a compelling story. The book opens well, setting up Claudia and Jeremy as happy artiste-types in their overpriced Mount Washington bungalow. But once the plot kicks in and the real estate bubble bursts and the various "moral choices" have to be made, I felt that the simplicity of Claudia and Jeremy's characters rendered any choices they made as either unbelievable or dull.

This was especially true about Claudia's story. Claudia loses her toehold of success in the film industry and has to get a job teaching film appreciation at a private school. Her most connected student, the daughter of a highly successful film producer, is not just difficult, she's an absolute horror. The girl has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. So rather than a fascinating gray area--does Claudia help a student who perhaps doesn't have the chops to succeed in the classroom, but has some good qualities?--the situation is completely black and white. Does Claudia sell her soul by giving a good grade to the most obnoxious student on the planet? Don't do it, Claudia!

The situation is similar with Jeremy, although it manifests itself in different ways. Jeremy, once with a successful band, is now trying to start again with a new band but also has to face the realities of an unaffordable mortgage. Again, Jeremy's character seems to only exist so he can make some horrific moral choice that can be later remedied.
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