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No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments Hardcover – June 8, 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this engaging chronology spanning twenty years, from college to hard-won success, the award-winning playwright tells her story of searching for home. The once-aspiring performing artist explores the world through vastly different New York neighborhoods, a series of part-time jobs, an enviable stint at Julliard, and slowly increasing acclamation. She recognizes an undeniable wish in herself to separate from her mother, a wish complicated by the bonds of shared history and an illness in later life. Even after surviving being raped in her early twenties, and insisting on independence, Berman is consumed for years in a yo-yo like love affair. Her writing moves fluidly as she schleps from studio to loft to the occasional luxury apartment, while angst, always present, only occasionally becomes annoying.
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Review

Elle.com Top 10 Summer Read

LAMag.com Reading List Pick

“Brooke Berman is the Real Deal: a miraculous, soul-seeking, honest artist who tells her story with humor, insight and a deep and abiding respect for this journey we call life. No Place Like Home is a gift to artists and dreamers everywhere who yearn to find their place in the daunting world of art, commerce, and real estate.”
—Rebecca Walker, author of Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, and Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self

“Brooke Berman's voice is utterly distinct, and her book, detailing her nomadic artist's journey toward both a successful playwriting career and a home of her own, through 20 years of cramped sublets, high-rise palaces, writer's colonies, and boyfriend's vans, is a hilarious, hopeful, and penetrating must-read.”
—Maria Dahvana Headley, author of The Year of Yes

“Forget the yellow bricks, this road is paved with cheap futons and pull-out couches.   In her pursuit of love, art, and a place to call her own, Brooke Berman goes on a journey that’s as harrowing as it is hilarious.  Written with candor, honesty and a delicious self-deprecating wit, No Place Like Home proves to be an irresistible read.”
— David Lindsay Abaire, author of Rabbit Hole

“Compelling, original, and a fascinating portrait of life among young artists in New York City, No Place Like Home will resonate with readers who are searching to discover their own true “home.” That is, practically all of us.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

“Brooke's journey in this book is both terrifying and beautiful.  On her way to becoming an artist she loses her jobs, her lovers, her apartments, her belongings, and her Mother, but never her mind, and never her writer's soul.  Reading every page, I could hear her laugh at what her life threw at her.  Brooke is a brave, warrior woman in damned scary days, and I loved this careful accounting of her search for a safe place to lay her head.”
—Marsha Norman, Pultizer Prize-winning playwright and co-director of the Playwrights Program at Julliard
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307588424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307588425
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #780,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert S. Robbins on February 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unfortunately there are very few biographies of contemporary playwrights. There are a few playwright biographies from the golden age of American Theater; Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller. But without biographies of contemporary playwrights, the course of a playwright's career in today's theater is a mystery. We need more contemporary playwright biographies to inspire writers and to show how personal tragedy can be made into great art. Fortunately Brooke Berman has written an autobiography which reveals how she found success as a playwright in contemporary theater. It was interesting to note exactly when she got her first agent, after winning an award, and how she got involved with the New Dramatists. I've had my eye on the New Dramatists and even took some photos of the exterior on my trip to explore Off Broadway. I wish she had described the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in more detail.

Of course, the book is primarily about New York City real estate which is certainly valuable information if you ever need to find an apartment in New York City. I've made around thirty trips to New York City and still feel a little intimidated by it all. I have read dozens of travel guides on New York City but they lack the practical information you would need as a new resident. Brooke Berman's provides a great personal story of how life might unfold if I ever relocated to New York City. But I'm not sure I would want to do that. I don't see why she needed to live in New York City to pursue her career. You only need to live in New York City if you work every day in the city. A playwright only needs to be in the city on the rare occasions when he/she is needed for a production.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How does a smart, upper middle class girl decide to quit college to conquer the competitive New York talent pool and become a credible playwright? I'm not sure why she decided to embark on an almost-homeless journey which, during her plight, involved 39 apartments, a rape, no money and a motley group of friends and acquaintances.

Ms. Berman's writing is excellent and she takes us from the beginning to a place of variant success and some conclusions. Her version of her Detroit area childhood is sketchy. Prompted by her parents' divorce her mother, Marilyn, moved out of their nice place to a lesser one. There are no details of the divorce but then she seems suddenly to be collecting her father's life insurance payments. Maybe I missed his death but she definitely has no significant memories of her father. The immutable Marilyn seems to be the crux of her need to vanish and tear herself from the constant barrage of her mother's need for absolute success and recognition.

Ms. Berman could have taken a conventional road and finished Barnard, remained in New York, away from her mother but instead refuted immense educational access and intelligence. She decides to abandon her paid education and subject herself to abject poverty and the incredible situation of not knowing where she would live next and if she could pay for another meal. She is smart, has a myriad of short-term jobs and finding a place to live in New York is a miraculous journey of survival and the willingness to give up privacy. I especially admired her humor, once referring to a second interview as a call-back for a room rental. She was able to write in any hovel or coffee shop she called home.
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As a misplaced New Yorker, I was brought right back home by Brooke Berman. The idea of revisiting the never-ending search for an apartment in my beloved city lured me in, and the unflinchingly honest, incredibly engaging writing kept me there. Well done! I hope to see some of her plays ...
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Like others have commented in their reviews, I too thought this book would be about the many apartments the author has lived in and what she faced while in them. (I went through something similar in my 20s in NYC, about a decade before the author). It starts out that way, and is a good read. Then it turns into The Brooke Berman Story, and it becomes page after page of self absorption. Berman's life is not unique or interesting - some of her living experiences are. I imagine this was the only way she could get her story published, which is something I am seeing more and more of in books today. She should have stuck with the real estate.
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The reviewer who commented on the stunning self-absorption exhibited by the author of this tedious memoir makes a mistake only in the undue generosity of giving this tripe two stars. Apparently too dim to realize how she comes across, Berman takes the hapless reader on a journey, all right--one of vapidity, churlishness and jaw-dropping insensitivity, all in her quest to be an "artist"--a laughable and time-wasting conceit, considering her tin ear for writing prose. Even in a genre full of some of the most mind-numbingly banal stories of personal experience alleged authors and their publishers see fit to foist on the reading public, this tome takes selfishness and me-ism to a nauseating new level. If one were to shine the most glaring light on the worst character defects one possesses, one could do no better a job than done here by Ms. B. If that was her goal, she succeeds brilliantly.
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