- 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 (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,806,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments Hardcover – June 8, 2010
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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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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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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. It would make more sense to live in East Stroudsburg and enjoy the low cost of living in Pennsylvania. That is still close enough to New York City for a long commute.
I will strongly recommend this book to every aspiring playwright, especially the ones who wonder if they need to move to New York City. I will also read a few of Brooke Berman's plays, although only a few are in print.
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. She made friends, lost friends, joined New Wave ideas; she kept reconstructing herself but was realistic and never delusional.
However, no matter what was happening, Brooke seemed to be able to pay for a therapist. Marilyn was always there for her and the dichotomy is the great love that they shared. Brooke, an only child, was not able to live near her or respond to her needs. Marilyn had many needs: she was a severe diabetic with a history of a kidney transplant and debilitating illnesses. But Marilyn had once been a very successful advertising or public relations executive and she refused to ever give up what she once was - if she really was that successful. Marilyn had remarried a possibly faux Austrian duke who misrepresented his wealth and maybe his lineage; Marilyn had broken dreams of grandeur. It seemed that when Marilyn imparted her generosity of love or what little money she had, she expected a similar return in attention and care. Ms. Berman was not able to respond on the level to fulfill Marilyn's needs.
Their conflicting relationship, I believe, is the basis for Brooke Berman's success and hardships. She was admitted to Juilliard as one of three playwrights, has received accolades for her plays and has sustained relationships. Without benefit of convenience or security, Brooke Berman has written a detailed, original memoir.