Elaine's Reviews > You Remind Me of Me

You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon
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's review
Feb 26, 2010

it was amazing
Read in February, 2010

This is a masterpiece! Chaon ranks with the very top of 21st century authors. His phrasing is felieitous and elegant. His plotting brilliant. The way he allows his stories to unfold, riveting.

This book is about choices and if's. If someone had made a different choice, then what? They made a choice and what other choices do they then make and what happens to their lives and someone else's? Oh, this has been argued and reargued in philosophy and even psychology. Is it nature or nurture? Is it by design or sheer luck? How free is our will. Was it, as Nora says at the end, which is also the beginning: How can you be alive when every choice you make breaks the world into a thousand filaments, each careless step branching into long tributaries of alternate lives, shuddering outward like sheet lightning?

Yet what happens, what the characters do, are not necessary consequences of choices. This is far more complex than that. Luck? God's plan? Fate? Choices? They are not either/or's.

Thhe voice is that of an omnisiscient author, and the sequences that unfold are not in chronological order, although each chapter is dated. The unfolding is like the ruminations in one's mind about what has happened in the past twenty years, memories jumping from one episode to another. Had this been written starting in 1971 and ending in 2002 in order of occurrences, it would have been interesting and the wording itself would have taken you along, but by fragmenting the time the motivations and consequences of what happens are made clearer, although we never really figure what is going to happen next, as in real live.

Chaon's characters are fully developed real humans, down to their gestures. Not only does he portray people we can feel breathing, but he is a master at creating their umwelt, the world in which they act and act upon. His familiarity with the roads and geography of the Great Plains states serves him well as characters not only interact with their towns, but as they take to the road. Every shrub, weed, box of a house passes before our eyes. Jonah, Troy, and Loomis, the Dakotas, and Nebraska stay with you.
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05/27 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Alan I love this review. I finished the book this morning. What a great wordsmith Chaon is, don't you think?

Elaine Oh that I do

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