Kristilyn's Reviews > I Am Me

I Am Me by Ram Sundaram
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Mar 10, 12

bookshelves: physical-book, read-in-2012, review-books-completed
Read from March 01 to 02, 2012

I surely hope that I’m not one of the only people in the world who wonders if this whole existence is a dream. If one day, when I’m old and gray, I’ll fall asleep and then, poof! I’ll wake up to live a new life, only to have it happen over and over again. In that same sense, I can’t help but find myself waxing poetically about nature and the beauty of the Earth, and how fascinating and amazing it is that we are actually here. Living, breathing, creatures who are capable of so much. So much thought. So much creativity. So much anything.

When Ram Sundaram’s publicist approached me and asked if I wanted to review Ram’s new book, I Am Me, I’ll admit I was a little skeptical. I had taken philosophy in university and felt my roots were a bit rusty — I felt like I wouldn’t be able to appreciate such a book without having a decent knowledge of the thought processes of the greats. Of course, then I thought that I was being silly — we are mankind. We have evolved since the first thinkers came to the world and surely I will have no problem absorbing the philosophies of modern-day literature.

Boy, was I wrong.

First things first, I must have spent at least twenty minutes before actually reading a word inside of I Am Me figuring out how exactly to read it. What the book is, is a two-way narrative — two cover pages in front of two different sets of the same stories. One side of the book is based on the “dreamer,” and the other side is based on the “dreamless.” One is based on reality, and the other is based on a kind of magical reality, a fantasy of sorts. Even just looking at the book from the outside, it’s hard to set a starting point: look at the main title of the book, I Am Me, and flip it over to see that it says I Am WE.

In fact, I found that one of the things I truly enjoyed about I Am Me is how it shows that we are individuals, part of a whole, but the whole can not exist without individuals. If you look at this in every day life, you can see such examples: a married couple is a whole made of two parts; a classroom would not exist without students; and a baseball team wins as a team, but comprises of several individuals.

Before I started reading this wonderful collection of short stories, I had just finished reading Stephanie Perkins’s adorably funny, sweet, cute YA novel Lola and the Boy Next Door. I know you’re probably wondering how on earth I can find similarities between the two novels, so obviously different, but the instant I started reading Sundaram’s Author’s Note, I remembered a line in Perkins’s book. I’m just paraphrasing it, but it said something along the lines of how history is made up of lies and how the winners of wars write the history. The whole of Sundaram’s book demonstrates just that: What is Fact? What is Fiction? To Sundaram, the factual reality of life is only that of “an entire population’s imagination.”

The entire book was fascinating to me. Sundaram’s writing drifts between normal, every day fiction, to that of a fairytale, to philosophy, to history, to an entire magical world that a person only dreams about. What had scared me about reading this book is that I thought it would express the parts of philosophy I didn’t enjoy reading in university, that it would be dull and dry and full of too many long, boring sentences, putting me to sleep.

The exact opposite is true — I devoured this book in one night, after finally figuring out how I wanted to read it. I found myself reaching for subtle comparisons throughout: sometimes I compare Ram’s stories to Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, or at other times to Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and at others to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. At other times it would read like something out of a Grimm’s fairytale, or perhaps from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Similarities aside, though, the entire book and its entire concept is truly unique and fascinating.

And yet, how I went about reading it is something I don’t want to share. Instead, I want you to pick up this book and turn it over, read the inside pages, close it, look at the covers again, read the opposite side’s inside pages, close it again … ultimately deciding for yourself how you want to approach it. Will you read each side straight through, then switch? Or will you read each story as individuals, only so you can put it down in between and think about the whole? I’ll let you decide that.

I can’t help but use the quote that was in the press release I received for this book. It’s one of my favourites and really depicts the nature of this book:

"The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."
Marcel Proust

In the meantime, I highly recommend reading Ram Sundaram’s I Am Me. It’ll bring out the inner philosopher, the inner dreamer, the inner rational thinker, and the inner creative monster within you. It truly is one special, must-read book.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book complimentary from Ram's publicist in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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