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36 Reviews
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great selection for a book club!
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...
Published on June 14, 2009 by Aileen

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Snobbish histrionic diatribe.
Though the writing style is poor and pretentious, the first half of the book has held my interest as it deals with literature - opinions on authors, quotations, analysis. I am a book worm and had read the books being discussed. But the religious drama, to my ear, has rung hollow, simplistic and vacuous. Being acutely aware of the myriads of elements that go into any...
Published on March 29, 2011 by Reader from Texas


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4.0 out of 5 stars Different kind of novel, May 15, 2013
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Page-Turner, April 5, 2013
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"You or Someone Like You," Chandler Burr's first novel, is a page-turner with intriguing characters set amidst the backdrop of Hollywood. Here's hoping for a second work of fiction from this talented writer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Those Crazy LA folks, March 28, 2013
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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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2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, March 12, 2013
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Barbara Rohde (Blackwood, South Australia Australia) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars a great read, January 25, 2013
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, 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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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars .Pretentious..., June 19, 2009
We got a whole lot going on in this novel, folks. Mid-life crisis, sexual coming-out, riffs on Hollywood elitism (with some jabs to New York City elitism thrown in as well), religious-identity crisis,and intense family turmoil over the lot. For the reader, it's sorta like swatting "in-coming", you never know what's coming next.

The parents in the story - Anne and Howard Rosenbaum - are living the Hollywood dream. Howard is a big-time studio exec, brought to Hollywood from NYC in the '70's to give a little class to movies, what with his PH.D in English lit. Howard met Anne, nee Hammersmith, in the same Columbia University graduate program. She's half-British, half-American, and all Christian.

They fall in love and marry, and incur virtually no acceptance from Howard's religious family, except perhaps from his younger brother, Stuart. After many years of fertility problems, they finally have a son - Sam - who in the story has just turned 17 and is in his last year of high school.

Sam's a doll and the love of his parents' lives. He looks like Anne in his coloring (causing Howard to love him all the more), but is like Howard in his character. Howard and Anne ascend the Hollywood ladder and become more and more successful. Howard at his work and Anne at being...well, Anne. She likes to read the classics at home and spends most of her time reading or taking care of the house and raising Sam.
She's respected by Howard's colleagues as being bright and...a reader, (therefore, an "intellectual"). (Howard's got sorta the same rap, though he shows his "toughness" by screaming at actors and directors when he needs to.)

Anne is asked to start a "reading group", not a book club, by a few of Howard's friends and it soon blossoms into a Hollywood "happening". Move over Kaballah, here comes Anne Rosenbaum's Reading Group, the newest "in thing".

Anyway, half of Hollywood (or so it seems) join the reading groups. Burr doesn't stint in giving real names of Hollywood players, either. But, while all this is going on, trouble lurks, waiting to show itself after Sam's trip to Israel on his Spring Break. He finds himself in an ultra-Orthodox kibbutz and, after being accepted because of his name, is thrown out by the head rabbi after his non-Jewish status (at least by Orthodox standards) is revealed by a fellow guest from the States. Unhappy - and who wouldn't be? - Sam returns to Los Angeles, where this woeful tale turns poor Howard into a wreck. Big-time mid-life crisis time for Howard. Did he do wrong in not marrying a Jewish woman? Should he have raised his only child with more religious beliefs than those gained by reading Bible stories? Is his life in Hollywood a joke?

And then the biggie. Sam declares he's gay. For a father who has so bonded and identified with his son, Howard's left with the angst which often occurs when a child comes out. Oh, and other stuff is going on, too. Car wrecks, studio in-fighting, etc, which touch on the on-going story line. Howard leaves Anne for a really intense Orthodox life, which really messes up everybody's view of the previously golden Rosenbaum family.

However, it all comes together - sorta - in the end. Everybody's more or less happy and pictures continue to come out the Hollywood pipeline. Careers are established, careers go down the drain. I just wish I could have kicked the butts of about half the characters and say, "stop obsessing".
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious - moi?, February 17, 2010
I was excited to read a book that was excited about literature, but in his effort to be literate, the author comes off as trying too hard to write brilliantly. Like he's busting a gut to be put on the shelves alongside his heroes Henry James, Shakespeare, etc. Burr's writing comes off as trite and stifling and humourless.

I wanted to throttle the main character, Anne, and that was largely due to the fact that she was so full of herself that she didn't think the words she spoke required quotation marks!
I haven't finished the book yet and don't know if I can... but I better, as I paid thirty bucks. Ah, snap!

A simpler writing style would have made this story more palatable and less ridiculous.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food For Thought, February 8, 2010
I love good food and I love good books. Not the kind of food that is fast and mass produced but the earthy, ethnic real nourishment that feeds both my body and soul. I guess the same could be said for the written word. It needs to nourish me. Chandler Burr's recent creation is an exotic change for my reading appetite. It is unusual, not a shake and bake or hamburger helper quick fix, but a mid east combination of flavors with many spices that leaves me tasting recipies with ordinary rice and vejetables and knowing they are not what I have ever had before. They are complex. The book You or Someone Like You is a mosaic. It presents conundrums, difficult complex issues that do not give up their secrets to the ordinary palate. I sat reading, not terribly crazy about the beginning of my meal/read but understanding the main course was not presenting itself yet. The central theme's of this book are dilemmas that left me questions to ponder long after the final page was read. I like a good read. I like to stimulate my mind with issues that are important in the world today. I like this book and I hope you or someone like you reads it soon!
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Me and someone like me, June 10, 2009
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A. O'Reilly (California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've long been a fan of Chandler Burr's nonfiction, so I was curious when I saw that his next book was a novel. Would it be as charming and incisive and broad-ranging as his earlier books? The answer is resoundingly yes. His yearning for human connection as well as his prodigious erudition are in full view, making this what I think of as the perfect read: intelligent but not stuffy, wry and acerbic but not cruel. Highly recommended.
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You or Someone Like You: A Novel
You or Someone Like You: A Novel by Chandler Burr (Paperback - June 8, 2010)
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