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The Other Shulman by Alan Zweibel
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My mother's book:

I read The Other Shuman because I enjoyed Lunatics, a book Alan Zweibel co-wrote with Dave Barry (one of my personal favorite writer-gods). So I was curious about Zweibel.

The book centers around an overweight, nice-guy wimp named Shulman, who owns a stationary store in New York that is quietly fading as big box stores take over the Mom and Pops. Shulman, in an attempt to become a more assertive, aggressive Shulman who can save his store, his marriage and his way of life decides to train for and run the New York Marathon. But a nemesis pops up, opposite of Shulman in every way, an evil doppelganger determined to torment Shulman in any possible way. The Other Shuman.

The book itself alternates backstory chapters with the race where he contemplates his failures and hopes as he runs (well, stumbles) through Staten Island, Manhattan, Harlem, Queens, the Bronx.

For me, it read a bit Woody Allen-ish, with a slowly developing, rambling plot interspersed with engaging moments and funny bits occasionally surfacing from a somewhat sluggish story. I enjoyed it once my expectations were lowered, and I would have ranked this higher if the ending had been a little stronger. One of the main characters basically disappeared without closure and I didn't like how the main conflict resolved.

Overall, I think my Mom would have liked the book more than I did ,,,

* caveat #1 I'm 53
* caveat #2 that's not so bad - Mom turned me on to Erma Bombeck forty years ago

Here's to you, Mom.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 21, 2012 – Shelved
March 21, 2012 – Finished Reading

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