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Out Of My Head

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  389 ratings  ·  69 reviews
"Simply thrilling. Its surprising denouement works a retrospective magic."
- New York Times Book Review

"Van Cauwelaert has assembled his plot perfectly, like an intricate timepiece, and we are amazed by the precise ticking that sounds at every twist in the tale. The book reads like a close cousin of Philip K. Dick, the acknowledged master of doubting what's real."
- Olivie
Hardcover, 164 pages
Published November 17th 2004 by Other Press (NY) (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 691)
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Ambyr Stanley
I do not include synopses with my goodreads reviews. Read what the professionals wrote. It's better than my mumbo jumbo.
Actual rating: 4 stars

Okay, okay, okay, the first step is admitting, so here goes: I am addicted to reading made-into-movie books...after I watch the movie. I know, I know - I'm a disgrace to readers everywhere. I am also a Liam Neeson freak, like most other warm-blooded women out there. So it goes without saying that when I saw the previews for "Unknown" I had my schedule clea
Brian Wilson
Pretty good read here. Only thing that I believe kept this from being a 5 star review was the fact that I had started watching the movie and was a good 45 minutes in before I decided to stop and read the book before going through the rest of the film. I should have made that decision a hell of a lot earlier though, because there are SOOOO many differences in what I saw as compared to what I read that I just kept having this battle in my mind, saying "Wait, that didnt happen like this" or "Where ...more
John Cheney
“Out of my Head,” by Didier Van Cauwelaert is a short, compelling thriller. Martin Harris awakens from a coma and returns home, only to find his wife does not recognize him and an impostor has taken his place. Martin tries to reassert his place, but he has no identification and the impostor has all of his experiences, memories, and knowledge down to the last detail. Thrown off balance, Martin cannot be sure whether this is a conspiracy, if he's delusional, or if he's experiencing some very stran ...more

(Really this should be 3.5 stars.)

Botanist Martin Harris and his wife Liz arrive in Paris. As they're on their way to the apartment loaned to them by unorthodox botanical theorist Paul de Kermeur, Martin realizes he left his laptop at the airport; he hails a passing cab, driven by middle-aged divorcee Muriel. But the journey's cut short when a stolen lorry forces the cab off a bridge and into the Seine. Muriel saves Martin's life but he's in a coma for a few days. When he recovers he finds that
Gerade aus den Staaten nach Paris gezogen, landet Martin Harris nach einem schweren Autounfall im Koma. Als er nach sechs Tagen wieder zu sich kommt, scheint nichts mehr so wie es vorher war. Seine Frau erkennt ihn nicht, ein anderer Mann lebt nun mit ihr zusammen in der neuen Wohnung. Unter seinem Namen. Martin hat auch keine Papiere mehr, mit denen er sich ausweisen könnte. Auch die Polizei hält ihn für einen Betrüger und den anderen Martin Harris für echt. Seine einzige Hoffnung scheint die T ...more
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Instead of the usual "short book trapped in a long book," this is a short book that needs to be a bit more. The Kafka-esque story of a man who, like the Steven Wright line, woke up to find that everything in his life was replaced by an exact duplicate - including himself!

Woven into this slender novel are discussions of plant communication, cybernetics, and identity. One never knows if there are actual bits of science that the author has leavened into his tale, or fiction designed to keep us inte
The thing I really liked about this book was that it was super easy to read (I literally read the whole book while waiting for a flight... and the flight wasn't even delayed). The thing I didn't like about this book was the concept was super scary and not scary like Stephen King, that I can live with... this book was a whole other type of scary. Imagine waking up knowing who you are, but all the people around have forgotten. Your own family doesn't recognize you; in fact, your wife has replaced ...more
Easy read. A man survives a traffic accident and wakes from a coma as a result. He arrives back at his apartment to find another man who has taken his place. His wife does not recognize him. He goes to the police station and files a report. The imposter arrives at the station and accuses him of lying. He has no recourse but to enlist the help of the female taxi driver, Muriel. He has no money and no identification. He returns to a neuropsychiatrist who treated him in hospital for help. The neuro ...more
A short, but intense read. I finished it in a day, not because it was so short, but because I simply couldn't put it down. Any one who likes psychological thrillers will love this. It reminded me a little of the Bourne Series.

Now that I have seen the movie, I have to say, that this may be one of the occasions where the movie may be actually better than the book. The movie simplified some of the more complex plot lines, and increased the action. The book was good, but the movie was better. A mus
a good book that could have been great. expanding the book and exploring action would have worked well.
Despite a somewhat rushed ending, an absolutely gripping story about a man who questions his identity, and then the idea of identity.

This is the story of a man who wakes up from a coma to find that an imposter has taken his place in his apartment. Although the end was a bit of an easy solution, it made sense, considering the author’s occasionally absurdist style and situations. But it was so good, I couldn’t put the book down until I was done reading it (then, I had that little feeling of disap
L'histoire est très bien menée et surtout l'écriture est très agréable, c'est un roman court q'on lit très vite. Par contre, je n'ai pas du tout envie de voir le film. Bonne lecture!
I enjoyed this book but I want to reread it as I read it over a weekend where I was volunteer helper at Camp and was constantly interrupted and found it hard to concentrate properly when I was reading. It is classified as a thriller, and the storyline was certainly intrigueing, however I would normally associate more "action" in the thriller genre. I was never "on the edge of my seat", and the resolution was speedy and rather unsatisfactory. I think it would make an excellent film and with Liam ...more
Joy Ramlogan
This book was made into a movie with Liam Neeson as the amenesiac who wakes up with his world upside down and inside out and his identity all gone except in his head. Because of the movie, the book was marketed as "unknown" not "hors de moi" or "out of my head" like this translation. Fascinating idea however, almost like a novella in length and edgy - can you change fate and be redeemed for your sins? I think this book works on several levels,as a thriller and a psychological study and as a stra ...more
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Disappointing in every sense.
Awesome book! "what matters is not the harm I've done but the good I can do" beautiful!
Nov 25, 2010 Spencer rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
I bought this book for a quarter because I couldn't get it at the library. Well, not in english anyway. It was a quick read, and it wasn't bad at all. It started out like a Twilight Zone episode, but ended up being something slightly more plausible. A man wakes from a coma to find another man living his life. When he confronts him he finds out that they both have all the same memories and claim to be the same man. I thought the idea was very clever; I'm glad I picked it up.
" J'ai tout perdu, sauf la mémoire. Il m'a volé ma femme, mon travail et mon nom. Je suis le seul à savoir qu'il n'est pas moi : j'en suis la preuve vivante. Mais pour combien de temps ? Et qui va me croire ? "

Dédoublement, folie, manipulation mentale ? Explorant une nouvelle fois les mystères de l'identité, Didier van Cauwelaert a écrit un suspense hallucinant, l'odyssée d'un homme seul en lutte contre le mensonge de son entourage... ou sa propre vérité.
Barry Simiana
Apr 16, 2011 Barry Simiana rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not too many people
Recommended to Barry by: liam neeson
I didn't like it. kinda cliched, not that well written, was hard to fight through but perservered coz i like liam neeson and will be watcg=hing the movie tonite. someone must have seen something in this book that i didn't. the idea is an old one - man wakes up not sure who he is, finds someone else impersonating him etc etc. a few twists that caught my interest, but overall not that good. read if you like, but don;t blame me.
Nov 16, 2011 Ash rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: library
“Out of my Head” by Didier van Cauwelaert got me hooked from page one, but left me a bit underwhelmed when I finished. I loved the plot and Cauwelaert’s writing were magnificent, but about halfway through I found myself asking why I was reading this. The suspense of knowing if Martin was crazy or not was what kept me going, but when I found out what had gone on I felt it was a bit predictable.
Voici un excellent roman à suspense narrant l'histoire d'un botaniste sortant du coma et qui se retrouve nez à nez avec un "autre" ayant pris sa place, auprès de sa femme notamment... Qui est-il ? Pourquoi personne ne parvient à le reconnaître ?

Le roman se lit très vite, l'histoire est rondement menée entre parano et paranormal. Un excellent livre servi par une écriture élégante et efficace.
I knew that this book was made into a movie, so I wanted to check it out before watching. The brief description given with the book is pretty much it, a tight story that keeps you reading, the progress is about right until the end where I felt the writer rushed a bit. I would have given it a 5 star if it was not for some abrupt transition between some chapters. Good quick read.
Randy Christopher
This book started out very good, but got kind of plain toward the middle and end. The movie seemed to bring the whole idea to a better climax and ending than the book. It seemed to have more of a point in the movie, so I didn't give the book as high of a praise because in most occasions the movie was better. This usually is not the case for me, so a little disappointing.
This was an interesting mystery about a man who wakes up from a coma in Paris only to find that someone else has taken his identity. Even his own wife denies who he is. The only one available to help is a woman taxi driver who rescued him from the Seine. He must try to reclaim his identity and manage to stay alive after a couple of near fatal suspicious accidents.
What’s here isn’t badly written. It’s just undistinguished, especially when compared with the substantive library of existential “blurred identity” fiction that has come before it. The book reads like a lesser Paul Auster novel, but without Auster’s strong authorial voice.

[PS... Amazon sucks. How infuriating that GoodReads has sold out to them!]
Joella Tunnell
A short, read in one sitting book. Martin Harris comes home from the hospital after an accident and finds someone claiming to be him in his home, and his wife not recognizing him and he can find no proof to prove he is really Martin Harris. A very convoluted plot - couldn't put it down till I got the answer to it all. A bit far fetched, but fun to read.
I don’t know what made me check this out of the library, maybe the fact that it was recently made into the movie Unknown with Liam Neeson. I'm not sure if it has been translated into English, but it was an easy read and intriguing mystery—one of those books that makes you want to read parts again once you’ve gotten to the resolution.
This story had a lot of potential, but the ending was not great. About 3/4 of the book was him running around trying to figure out who he is and then suddenly there was the BIG REVEAL, but it was done so confusingly and abruptly that I didn't really care who he ended up being. Maybe something was lost in the translation from French?
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Didier van Cauwelaert est un romancier et dramaturge français, né d'une famille d'origine belge.

Didier van Cauwelaert is a French novelist and playwright with Belgian roots.
More about Didier van Cauwelaert...
Un aller simple L'Éducation d'une fée L'Évangile de Jimmy La Vie interdite Les Témoins de la mariée

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