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You: Or the Invention of Memory 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0979209185
ISBN-10: 0979209188
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Baumbach's dark, meandering, self-conscious latest (On the Way to My Father's Funeral) explores a particularly resilient form of unhappiness. At a New York publishing party, aging writer Jay recognizes you—a woman he met 27 years before, slept with ecstatically one night after a wedding and parted from, only to be obsessed with ever since. Now both married, the two end up having an occasional, mutually dissatisfying Wednesday affair at the Plaza Hotel. Deeply ambivalent about his feelings, given to further perfunctory infidelity with others yet enraged by his partner-in-crime's inability to choose between him, her husband and the other man she dallies with, Jay rehearses many tortured versions of their story, alternating with the POV of you (who is also sometimes the reader). The father of film director Noah, Baumbach creates conflicted characters who play out an impenetrable resistance to marital harmony and stasis. The result is a grim hall-of-mirrors of self-perceptions. (Feb.)
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Review

Baumbach's characters remind you how much fiction-making takes place in daily life: When the wife tells the husband she has some news, he quickly imagines three possibilities (and then Baumbach spins out three alternating stories based on those possibilities). Disappearing one night during their married life, the husband the next day is said to be "dying to market the version he had worked up of where he had been and what he had done." Composing a personals ad for what must be the New York Review of Books, the wife "barely recognized herself in the description she was issuing." We all work for the fiction collective, inventing and marketing stories as often as any novelist. Baumbach drops many hints that "You" is autobiographical, but that would only add another layer of fiction to the fictions his characters tell. "Writing a novel . . . is a gesture of love between writer and reader," he tells us early, so whether the "you" he addresses was inspired by an actual woman doesn't matter: The finished book is indeed for you the reader. "For as long as I've known you, you've been an admirer of the bold and unexpected." (Yes, you think, he's got my number.) "The book I am writing with you in mind will be nothing if not unexpected." He keeps his promise: There is the unexpected alternation between first- and third-person points of view. There is the totally unexpected revelation that the wife's name is V. Lois Lane, former lifestyle editor of the Daily Metropolis. There is "The Terror, a recently opened Middle Eastern restaurant with a provocative menu." It is also unexpected that these postmodern tactics and gags can mesh so well with an old-fashioned story of midlife married malaise. Writing a novel like this is indeed a gesture of love: Neither the author nor the publisher is in it for the money, and "You" probably won't make it onto any bestseller lists. You may even have trouble finding it in a bookstore. But if you are "an admirer of the bold and unexpected," "You," like any gesture of love, deserves your regard. -Steven Moore Los Angeles Times --Los Angeles Times

Baumbach s dark, meandering, self-conscious latest (On the Way to My Father s Funeral) explores a particularly resilient form of unhappiness. At a New York publishing party, aging writer Jay recognizes you a woman he met 27 years before, slept with ecstatically one night after a wedding and parted from, only to be obsessed with ever since. Now both married, the two end up having an occasional, mutually dissatisfying Wednesday affair at the Plaza Hotel. Deeply ambivalent about his feelings, given to further perfunctory infidelity with others yet enraged by his partner-in-crime s inability to choose between him, her husband and the other man she dallies with, Jay rehearses many tortured versions of their story, alternating with the POV of you (who is also sometimes the reader). The father of film director Noah, Baumbach creates conflicted characters who play out an impenetrable resistance to marital harmony and stasis. The result is a grim hall-of-mirrors of self-perceptions -Publishers Weekly --Publishers Weekly

YOU is a wise, witty meditation on the mysteries of love. And because the brilliant Jonathan Baumbach is the author, it is also a house of mirrors in which a single relationship is fractured into infinite possibilities and the corridors lead deep into a labyrinth of memory and desire. At every point, YOU offers us a new way to look at ourselves, startling us with uncanny reflections. - Joanna Scott --Joanna Scott

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Rager Media; 1st edition (November 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979209188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979209185
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,993,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By M. Romano on February 13, 2009
Baumbach's exacting observation of his and our memory of love's faces is an achievement of the first order. His powers of description drew me in and kept me there wondering where he was going to take me next. I felt literally in his skin. It is difficult to convey the impact of the book here. I would suggest buying it and reading it now. It will do your soul a world of good.

"I remember nothing as it was. What I remember--all I remember is as it is"
Miguel Funes quoted by the author on the page after the dedication
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You: Or the Invention of Memory
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