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on June 14, 2009
This novel will make a great book club selection. First, because it's beautifully written. The language alone kept me turning the pages. If you've read any of his previous books, you know that Chandler Burr can write. His non-fiction reads like fiction and his fiction like poetry. Second, because there is so much that can be discussed. Within the story of Anne Rosenbaum and her book club for Hollywood executives, Chandler Burr manages to weave in many very relevant themes that will encourage great discussion. There is politics, religion, literature, all tied to the question of whether literature can help us deal with the issues of our daily lives. Burr makes literature accessible, fun and relevant. You will learn more than you can imagine reading this novel. It made want to pick up some of those classics that have been collecting dust on my shelf. Be sure to check the website [...] for a great reading group guide.
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on February 23, 2010
SHORT REVIEW:

Chandler Burr's masterpiece. English lit majors would love it. Been called a "Shiska" at work or by a boyfriend's family? You'll find shelter here. Though I find the intelligence of Hollywood who's-who a bit inflated. A unique examination into the depths of "forbidden" love through the poetic verse of literary giants.

LONG REVIEW:

This is most definitely, in my opinion, Chandler Burr's labor of love. It is his masterpiece. He obviously put a tremendous amount of work into the development of this book, but beware, if you didn't pay attention in English Lit in college a number of his literary references that require you to read between the lines as to the meaning and relation to the story line will be lost on you. I had to reread a couple of them and a few others I just said, oh forget it, and moved on to the next line. Also, Burr's writing style is hard to follow at times. His unique lack of the use of quotation marks makes for some dialogue hard to separate from narration. However, I feel he chose this style to help develop the lead character's personality, which is highly educated dry English upper-class as well as a person who is more introverted. You may have even met someone like her and found her aloof in real life.

That said, I enjoyed this book. It is very unique. I think those who have either A) lived in Hollywood and worked in the industry, B) worked in a Jewish company or dated a Jewish man and are not Jewish themselves, C) a love and understanding for English literature, or D) any combination of two or more above will find themselves nodding in agreement, or at least appreciation, for the themes in this book.

I agree with one reviewer that the tone is a bit pretentious at times, but I believe that it is meant to be that way as a fleshing out of the main character, who is the narrator. I found it interesting that Burr developed characters who really don't have their own opinions but rather draw their ideas and opinions and relations in life through the words of others. The big crisis that the family endures is also sparked by and through the ideas and opinions of others and not through their own thoughts and feelings, however the conflict brought out for perhaps the first time real raw personal emotion and feelings from the narrator and how she dealt with it. I thought Burr conveyed well the fight for deep, true love, against a very real and controversial crisis of identity. I was a bit disappointed with the resolution of the conflict and the closing of the book, however. I felt like Burr just kind of ended it all. It was fuzzy. I wish he had written another 50 pages or so. Or, maybe we are supposed to read between the lines here as well? I wondered if it was planned or if he'd simply had it.

Overall, I applaud Chandler Burr. He took a leap and he went "there." I'm glad he did. And for those who thought it was bigoted...well...sometimes the truth hurts. I know I found refuge in what may be controversial for some...for those of us on the other side it hits home.
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on May 15, 2013
I REALLY liked this story but it was very different than most novels, as it was full of literary references which frequently took center stage over the story line, As a Jew I found the argument somewhat realistic.
But also too simplistic.
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on January 25, 2013
This book is required reading for all you guys out there, like my own husband, married to a Jewish woman, who thinks he can eat a bagel and say oy vey every so often. I loved the book because I loved the literary conceit throughout the book, but I suspect if you didn't read Shakespeare or ponder Auden or other English mid 20th century poetry, it might not be so enthralling. I thought every character, even the most minor, was well conceived and interesting. This is a great re-read and I finally bought it because I find myself checking it out of the library every year. I've given it as a gift to several people who, like us, have "mixed" marriages, and they agree that it hits the nail on the head.
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on July 5, 2010
In Los Angeles, the studio personnel compete for places at the book group meetings led by Howard's wife Anne, jostling for morsels of insight about the classics of literature to apply to their scripts to gain the advantage.

In Israel, Howard's son Sam learns that because his mother is a gentile nothing will make him a Jew.

Chandler Burr's novel is Anne's coming to terms with two parallel class systems that dehumanize and destroy.

The writing is intensely felt, shockingly candid, bracing as an open winter window.
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on March 28, 2013
Nobody wants to be seen as smart more than a Hollywood executive.

The outsider Wife of a famous executive starts a book club and it becomes the place for the popular kids. Throw in storylines about the history of Jews, a Dad's struggles with his son's coming out, and the lying cheating BS that pretends to be friendship in LA and you've got yourself a wonderful read.

I didn't let the book go until it was over and then I thanked God that I got out of that town when I could.
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on June 15, 2009
Howard and Anne (he Jew, she WASP) meet and marry as graduate students at Columbia. They migrate to Hollywood where Howard rapidly becomes a studio exec of Spielbergian dimension. Anne is drawn into leading a book club which becomes the hottest venue in tinseltown. Yes, a book club! Those of you who have dug deeply enough into the bowels of Amazon to be reading this review are likely to be members of at least one book club so you know that pretty soon, all hell breaks loose.

Chandler Burr is a very bright guy and he demands the same from his readers. No icky sex scenes, no whining about an unhappy childhood, just hard core brilliance (when, after all, did you last see a fictional character's insights into William Faulkner AND Edward Lear?). Things heat up after Sam (he's their son) makes a trip to Israel. I'll give nothing away but the denouement, Tutti, you shouldn't miss
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 1, 2011
I've had to consider this book for a few days before sharing my opinion and I am still not exactly sure how it will go.
Less a story and more an extended lecture, You or Someone Like You is a satirical rumination on literature, philosophy and religion. Laced with irony and purposefully inflammatory it is interesting to read but as a novel is just barely held together by what I felt to be a shallow plot that is simply a coat hanger for much bigger ideas.
There are so many ideas in this book, the value of literature, religious belief, cultural identity, morality and the author is deliberately provocative. I was fascinated as he pulled at the threads of hypocrisy and challenged to consider the viewpoints he explores.
Literature is a key feature of the novel and the book extensively quotes from classic works. The constant references seem a little pretentious to me though that may well be the point, but for the protagonist Anne, literature is her means of articulating herself and her ideas and understanding and interpreting her experience. Taken at face value, the author seems to be lamenting the degradation of literacy. Burr emphasises that literature is a mirror that reflects the truth but I think I detect a thread of subtle warning, that it's interpretation has an ambiguity that we need to question in relation to our own life and experience. For me this is most clearly illustrated as Anne's relationships disintegrate.
Cultural, religious and racial identity is another major theme of You Or Someone Like You. As an agnostic who lives in a country without a strong national or cultural identity I found this to be the most interesting thread of the novel. Burr uses Judaism to illustrate the inherent conflicts and hypocrisies of identity but I feel you could substitute any almost any religious or cultural group that believes in some manner of exclusion and it still be relevant. Judaism is simply the example Burr uses to communicate and explore the complications of society.
You or Someone Like you was not an easy read, it is slow and dense and I never particularly warmed to Anne but there are some very astute observations hidden amongst the overblown language and deliberate controversy. This novel needs to be approached with a critical eye to what lays beneath the surface. I can imagine it would certainly make for a fiery book club discussion but You or Someone Like You is not for everyone.
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VINE VOICEon June 23, 2009
Chandler Burr's You or Someone Like You is just a terrific novel of ideas--a thought provoking and well-written book that succeeds on a number of levels. The narrator of the novel, Anne Rosenbaum is a transplanted British woman married to a Hollywood insider, who starts a book club at the behest of other Hollywood insiders. Anne is an English Ph.D. and, while reluctant at first, is ultimately thrilled to have a platform to share her ideas about literature. The book club is a terrific success and gives Anne Hollywood power she never anticipated. While the book club, which is more a literature seminar than a book club as most of us experience, is flourishing, her family life begins to fall apart. She begins to contemplate, and fold into her book club, the nature of tribalism in American culture. Her ruminations are fascinating, provocative and certain to offend some readers. The novel itself is so entertaining; Burr is a wonderful writer. He writes with a rare clarity and precision. I think You or Someone Like You would be a terrific selection for a book club that can focus on the book. There is much to discuss, ponder and argue about in this novel--a must read for all thoughtful readers. Enjoy
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on March 12, 2013
There are some pearls scattered in this narrative but overall its style is very frustrating and uneven. The prose is pretentious in the beginning and it is difficult to tell when the protagonist is actually speaking to another character or just thinking it to herself. There is no real point in mentioning all the Hollywood names as they contribute nothing to moving the narrative forward and so I found them tedious. Ultimately I found the construction of this novel laboured.
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