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Showing 1-10 of 15 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 30 reviews
on September 16, 2014
I'm afraid I could not finish the book. It was too slow and did not hold my attention. I also thought it would be funny, but it wasn't.
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on May 6, 2012
I came upon this as part of an arbitrary project of reading all the Thurber Prize winners and finalists (a very mixed bag so far). Instead of a "funny" book, I found a novel that reminded me of the John Cheever novella or short story, "The Swimmer", in which another middle aged fellow assigns himself an athletic endeavor, and his pursuit of what should be a one day event takes on a surreal dimension, transforming itself into a dissection of his insecurities and failures. The Other Shulman ends on a lighter note than Cheever's short story, in fact, a note in which Shulman surmounts the fears that had been his nemesis. It also reminded me of another book: It shares with Annie Proulx's novel "The Shipping News" an aura of magical realism in which the physically impossible happens, and in doing so, determines the story's outcome.

Zweibel is an adept psychologist. He has the knack of conveying a great deal about his characters in only a few lines of dialogue. I'd like to read more of his work.
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on January 22, 2016
Great story told in a humorous way
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VINE VOICEon November 7, 2005
The setting is suburban Fort Lee, New Jersey, that place across the river from the Big Apple that Jerseyites eye with suspicion. There, middle-aged and overweight Shulman owns a failing stationery store, unable to compete with the new megastore Stationery Land, and has a failing marriage. Shulman decides he is going to lose weight, shape up and run the New York Marathon, raising money for AIDS in the process. Shulman along with a group of others, including attractive Maria, sign up with Coach Jeffrey to prepare for the race. Each chapter in the book represents one mile that Shulman runs in the marathon. In flashbacks we learn much about his life, one marked by lack of ambition and defeat. Shulman jokes that he has lost enough weight during his lifetime to make an entire other person. Lo and behold, during one morning's run, that person suddenly appears - T.O. Shulman (The Other Shulman). T.O. is Shulman's doppelganger - what he could have been if he had been more ambitious and confident. The Other Shulman turns out to be the owner of the successful Stationery Land chain that is driving Shulman's mom and pop operation out of business. However, our Shulman has one thing T.O. doesn't have - a big heart. Along the way to completing the marathon Shulman learns some profound lessons about living life to the fullest and about dying. And the reader is treated to some hilarious scenes that made the tears run down my cheeks. I particularly like the episode where Shulman describes how back in college he submitted the lyrics of a Paul Simon song to his poetry professor as his own, and the accolades he received, that is until he is asked to read it before his class. "The Other Shulman" is both wise and funny, definitely a perfect read to brighten up a gray day.
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VINE VOICEon September 20, 2007
Written by a former Saturday Night Live writer, this novel follows an everyman named Shulman as he tries to pull his life back together.

Entropy has progressed far for Shulman, an aging, overweight, small businessman. He's getting fat, his wife is more interested in her clients than him, his business is failing, and his nice guy style only makes it easier for those around him to use him.

For reasons he doesn't understand, he signs up to train for the New York Marathon after seeing an ad about promising to get anyone in shape for this in 6 months.

The book has 26 chapters that cover each mile of the marathon and in each chapter, the author recounts the past events that led up to this moment. The title refers to Shulman's theory that he has lost the same pounds off and on since high school and that the lost weight is now enough to make up another Shulman. It also turns out that there really is another Shulman - a crass, commercialized, ruder version who is intent on ruining Shulman's personal and private life.

The book includes quite a few comic scenes that are hilarious but there is a serious side also. The training program is meant to get people to run who will find sponsors to donate money to Aids research. The coach dies of Aids and Shulman's training partner's brother has just died of Aids. No way to make those parts funny.

I have 2 negative criticisms of the book. First, I think the main character is somewhat hard to relate to unless you're Shulmanesque. (Since I am to some degree, I related completely, but I fear others might not.) Secondly, the ending is a little weird and makes it possible that much of the book was imaginary or at least not what it seems. So be prepared. There is a little off-color language but no major filth. I would not give this book to a child.

Overall, I found the book insightful, well-written and entertaining. A solid 4 stars.
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on July 31, 2006
I don't often write reviews but I have to tell you that Alan Zweibel was right on the money with this book. The characters are eminantly likable while still believable. The story is fanciful (admittedly farfetched but with purpose) and you root for this poor guy through the whole book. Plus as someone who has actually endured the slog that is the NY marathon, I felt I was reliving it mile for mile (not always a pleasant experience but visceral nontheless). He does a great job of taking you through the marathon as a metaphor for life obstacles we wish we could overcome but that seem to great to do so.

Alan is a wonderful writer. The book uses dialogue well to deliver warm and enjoyable moments that never ceased to make me smile. His structure of the book in 26 chapters that map to Shulman's attempt to finish the "run of his life" is very artfully done and leaves you feeling satisfied.

If I had to offer one concern, (and I don't look to but it is a review afterall and nothing is perfect) the ending was a bit less than I had hoped. I kind of get the sense that he finished the book, wrote a few endings, and the editor picked one and just moved forward. It just doesn't seem to have the same pinash as the rest of the book.

Overall though, it's a wonderful book (I did give it a 5 out of 5)and should be enjoyed by all!
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on August 12, 2007
I purchased this solely from seeing Mr. Zweibel on a talk show reading a short excerpt from it. Having been an SNL fan from its very first episode and only of the creatively inspired times, I knew the book would not disappoint in terms of entertainment. That is was also sentimental and sweet, with a message or two to impart, was a surprise. I'm not sure if this is a universally-enjoyed book, though there's no reason it shouldn't be; I just know that this native Long Island girl who misses Woolworth's and Gertz and the Keith's in Flushing enjoyed it quite a bit. Although I have to correct the author - Paul McCartney wrote 'We Can Work it Out,' not John Lennon.
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on May 28, 2010
Almost every page of this book will bring you something to laugh about and something to inspire you. It is absolutely one of the best books I've read in ten years. I cannot recommend it highly enough. You'll struggle with Shulman each mile in his marathon of life, relationships, marriage, business and baby boomerism. Brilliant, funny and incredible.
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on August 17, 2007
I got interested in this book after seeing the author read an excerpt in a late night show (Letterman? I can't remember)Once I started reading I could not put it down. Pardon the cliche' but this time it fits: It made me laugh, it made me cry. And right now it's in the mail- I passed it on to a loved one I'm hoping will enjoy it as much as I did.
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on October 21, 2012
This is a wonderful book which I have read multiple times. We all have a little Schulman in us. Highly recommend.
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