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I'm Trying to Reach You

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3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  103 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
"A provocative novel... that blurs the boundaries between life and performance, dance, art, and viral video. The novel is also framed in the world of performance art and is itself its own kind of performance... and feels rightly reflective of a moment when dance is pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a performance space."
-Slate Book Review

"Deftly blending highbrow i
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Two Dollar Radio (first published January 1st 2012)
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zan
Nov 24, 2012 zan rated it really liked it
Read the entire book on the same day I also finished Sheila Heti's How Should A Person Be?, along with Tove Jansson's Fair Play and Elizabeth Hardwick's Sleepless Nights. Then this book: one that is about artists, about performance, about modern relationships, about YouTube, about memories of people, about everything those other three books were about in very different ways.

And then the freaky (but "just for me" freaky) stuff: how I was abroad too when Michael Jackson died, how the narrator ment
...more
Rob
Jul 27, 2012 Rob rated it liked it
(7/10) Well this is an odd one. I'm Trying to Reach You is a kind of conspiracy novel, but it's a conspiracy that revolves around cryptic YouTube videos, modern dance, and Michael Jackson. The narrator is even more of an oddity, a strange mixture of voyeurism, fixation, and critical theory. He watches what he perceives to be a something incredibly significant and strange, but is not involved in it, taking the same role of observer as we do. The whole thing is vaguely Hitchcock-esque, but also a ...more
Joe Demes
Oct 07, 2015 Joe Demes rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Utter shit.
Beth
Sep 27, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
When I first started this book I wasn't clear on the narrator. Since the author was a woman, I assumed the narrator was, too. I had a pic in my head of a quiet thirty-something white woman with long brown hair. Then I started thinking maybe it was a gay guy, but I wasn't sure. Then I finally figured out it was a gay guy, and after I readjusted the pic in my head, the voice made more sense. But then later on I learned that he was a "brown" gay guy, which changed the MJ obsession into something mo ...more
katie
Jan 04, 2014 katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub, read_14
This is so not a book I would have chosen for myself and I actually put off reading it until just before book club, but I loved it. Details about the characters and the plot are often not provided until they're narratively necessary, so they feel like they could have just been added and since so many of them were so easy to relate to my own life, it often felt like the book was being written for me as I went along - like a choose-your-own-adventure where I didn't realize I was making the choices ...more
Courtney Stanton
Jan 09, 2014 Courtney Stanton rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Summer
Nov 20, 2013 Summer added it
I'm a bit ambivalent about this book. I think all that I appreciate about it stems from the fact that I was a graduate student and know that struggle. It is at times a really funny novel that is spot on in it's description of human behavior and engagement at this moment, but I don't know that I had enough interest in or patience for the protagonist or the larger things being explored in the novel. I've found other books that explore similar themes to be a more delightful read.
Lisa Guidarini
An odd book I'd never have chosen had it not been up for the IPPY award, in the category of literary fiction and had I not been one of the judges. Sort of limits what I can actually tell you about it, more's the pity. I'm afraid you'll have to get more insight from the other reviews. I'm including it in my Books Read because my goal is to finish 100 in 2013 and I'm not giving up one title I can add to the total.

Yes, my reasons are purely selfish.
Jim
May 28, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
Yes, I really liked this book.
Took a long time to read, because the book consistently refers to YouTube videos which I would search out in order to better understand the material. Furthermore, there is a good deal of dance/ballet namedropping which I somehow thought it was necessary to read up on.

Made me think. It may make you think too.
(also caused me to remember C. Carr's book "On Edge: Performance Art at the End of the 20th Century." Highly recommended).

David
May 27, 2012 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
Read my review on New York Journal of Books first. Additional remarks that appeared in a different and now defunct publication can now be found on my Wordpress blog.
Anita
Nov 27, 2012 Anita rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Anita by: Emily Books
Weird and wonderful blend of high and low concerns. I feel lucky to have been given such a clever, contemporary, observant book about performance, viral video, and connection, among many other things. Highly recommend.
Amelia
Apr 09, 2016 Amelia rated it liked it
I was in Philadelphia when Michael Jackson died.

The final image of the "It ain't easy being green" performance is indelibly seared in my brain. It might be more memorable than everything else in this book.

Campbell Matthew
Jun 23, 2013 Campbell Matthew rated it really liked it
I honestly don't know what to think of this book yet but I've certainly never read anything like it.
Neal
Jun 13, 2012 Neal rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
This probably deserves more than three stars, but somehow it just didn't speak to me. Parts of it did, other parts just fell a bit flat. I would give it 3 1/2 stars if I could.
Tobias
Jun 30, 2012 Tobias rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2012
Good hybrid of/riff on the academic comedy and the paranoid thriller. Also impressive: works in a completely different way than Browning's earlier THE CORRESPONDENCE ARTIST.
Tom Buchanan
Jun 10, 2013 Tom Buchanan rated it it was amazing
I'd been wanting to read this forever, and guess what? It's great. It also won my heart for featuring Jess Dobkin's "It Ain't Easy Being Green" act.
Celeste
Celeste rated it it was amazing
Dec 10, 2014
JH
JH rated it it was amazing
May 31, 2015
Emma
Emma rated it liked it
Dec 07, 2012
Anne
Anne rated it liked it
Jan 04, 2016
Adam Lowy
Adam Lowy rated it it was amazing
Oct 04, 2016
Dan
Dan rated it it was ok
Sep 30, 2016
Lauren
Lauren rated it it was amazing
Jul 08, 2014
Annie Crowley
Annie Crowley rated it it was amazing
Dec 12, 2013
Catie Disabato
Catie Disabato rated it it was amazing
Nov 27, 2012
Fritz
Fritz rated it really liked it
Jun 24, 2013
Chelsea Gunn
Chelsea Gunn rated it it was amazing
Apr 19, 2016
Kelly
Kelly rated it really liked it
Jul 26, 2013
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Barbara Browning's debut novel, The Correspondence Artist, was published in February, 2011. She has a PhD from Yale in Comparative Literature. She teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. She's also a poet and a dancer. She lives with her son in Greenwich Village.
More about Barbara Browning...

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“He seems to be supporting her tenderly. But what holds them together is difficult to pin down.

In her memoir, she wrote that he once dropped her on her hip very painfully, and she had the distinct impression he’d done it on purpose.

What really goes on between two people is very difficult to say.”
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“White people can be so unself-conscious. It’s offensive, charming, and pathetic, all at the same time.” 4 likes
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