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We Are Not Ourselves: A Novel (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 19. August 2014

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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 640 Seiten
  • Verlag: Simon & Schuster (19. August 2014)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 147675666X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476756660
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 23,6 x 15,7 x 3,6 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 174.802 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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The Corrections. The Art of Fielding. Most years, there’s a mega-hyped American epic that’s heralded as a literary breakout. This year’s, a saga about an Irish-American family in Queens, is refreshingly unpretentious but packed with soul—and profoundly moving characters.” —Entertainment Weekly, The Must List

“A gripping family saga, maybe the best I've read since The Corrections.”
—Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly, Grade: A

"We Are Not Ourselves is a powerfully moving book, and the figure of Eileen Leary—mother, wife, daughter, lover, nurse, caretaker, whiskey drinker, upwardly mobile dreamer, retrenched protector of values—is a real addition to our literature.”
—Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding

"The mind is a mystery no less than the heart. In We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas has written a masterwork on both, as well as an anatomy of the American middle class in the 20th Century. It's all here: how we live, how we love, how we die, how we carry on. And Thomas does it with the epic sweep and small pleasures of the very best fiction. It's humbling and heartening to read a book this good."
—Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End

"Okay, straight out, this novel is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. We Are Not Ourselves delivers the deepest, most involving and best pleasures of reading, the pleasures that have you lose your hours while curled up in a comfy couch, that have you sneaking looks and reading when you should be doing other things. A true epic in the best sense of the word, encompassing the big great gorgeous heartbreak that was our American Century. You doubt me. Please do not. Each page is suffused with a relentless and probing genius, as well as a generous and humane heart, and the result not only explodes across the darkening sky, but remains with you long after you've finished the last page and handed it to someone you love. So long as there are novels like We Are Not Ourselves, so long as there are writers like Matthew Thomas, the form of the novel is more than alive, it is thriving, palpitant.”
—Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children

“In his powerful and significant debut novel, Thomas masterfully evokes one woman’s life in the context of a brilliantly observed Irish working-class milieu….a definitive portrait of American social dynamics in the 20th century. Thomas’s emotional truthfulness combines with the novel’s texture and scope to create an unforgettable narrative.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"We Are Not Ourselves is wonderful on the position of the striving classes and our longings on behalf of our families, and on how we deal with unexpected disaster. It’s as fiercely passionate and big-hearted and memorable as Eileen, its I’m-holding-this-family-together-with-my-two-hands protagonist."
—Jim Shepard, author of Project X and You Think That’s Bad

“[A] masterly debut.”
Vanity Fair

“[A] devastating debut novel . . . an honest, intimate family story with the power to rock you to your core . . . [a] wrenchingly credible main character . . . rich, sprawling . . . Mr. Thomas’s narrow scope (despite a highly eventful story) and bull’s-eye instincts into his Irish characters’ fear, courage and bluster bring to mind the much more compressed style of Alice McDermott . . . Part of what makes We Are Not Ourselves so gripping is the credible yet surprising ways in which it reveals the details of any neuroscientist’s worst nightmare . . . This is a book in which a hundred fast-moving pages feel like a lifetime and everything looks different in retrospect. As in the real world, the reader’s point of view must change as often as those of the characters . . . This is one of the frankest novels ever written about love between a caregiver and a person with a degenerative disease. The great French film “Amour” conveyed the emotional aspects of such a relationship, but Mr. Thomas spares nothing and still makes it clear how deeply in love these soul mates are.” —Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Astonishing and powerful…Thomas’s finely observed tale is riveting. As a reflection of American society in the late 20th century, it’s altogether epic, sweeping the reader along on a journey that’s both inexorable and poignant.” —People

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Matthew Thomas was born in the Bronx and grew up in Queens. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he has an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. His New York Times-bestselling novel We Are Not Ourselves has been shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. He lives with his wife and twin children in New Jersey.

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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Dream am 5. April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
I read this book for Misha Collins. I add this in the beginning of this review to make clear that I was not drawn to this book via affiliation to the topic. I have no Alzheimer's patients in my immediate family or circle of friends. For me, reading this book was watching a slow-motion trainwreck for hundreds of pages. Which I guess is a very accurate description of Alzheimer's. But for me, it was also very trying and at points the futility of it all was so depressing that I was tempted to not go back for the last few hundred pages. In the end, I got through the book and I do not regret buying or reading it. Parts of it are very beautifully and vividly written, parts of it are very intense. But I do believe that a personal connection to the topic would probably be helpful to appreciate the full scope of the book. As it is, three stars because I'm very definitely not ever going to read the book again.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von Jacqueline K. am 7. März 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Surely, the fact that my father suffered from Alzheimer's disease is what first drew me to this book. Once I had started reading, I could not stop. Matthew Thomas manages to describe the different stages everyone around the person suffering from this disease goes through, the compassion, denial, confrontation, struggle, etc., including the lucid moments in which the person him-/herself understands/seems to understand what is happening to him/her. The book has left me admiring my mother much more than ever before for the energy she put into taking care of my father. ...
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 981 Rezensionen
252 von 264 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Beautifully written, slow moving life story 24. Mai 2014
Von RobynJC - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Eileen Leary wants things. She grows up in a poor neighborhood with alcoholic, well-intentioned parents and she wants more. She marries a brilliant, kind scientist, and she wants more. A bigger house, a better standing, a child... Eileen wants. But instead, Eileen is about to find that instead of getting more, she is about to suffer a great loss, a loss that will last a lifetime.

Many reviews - including the Publishers's Weekly blurb - spoil the "loss" and I wish they hadn't. Finding out why Eileen's family is unraveling is a central question of the book, and the great mystery of the middle third. I think I would have enjoyed it more not knowing. Also, this is not a book with plot to spare. This is a 640 page novel that reads like a poem, and I mean that in good ways and possibly in bad ones. The sentences are gorgeous and beautifully crafted. There were three chapters that were so profound I literally turned back and read them again as soon as I had finished the first time. The book is emotionally insightful into the three principal characters of Eileen, her husband Ed, and their later-in-life son Connell. Most of the book is told from Eileen's point of view, although Connell gets a voice starting about halfway through. I wept at the end. It does feel that you have witnessed a life go by.

That being said: this was not my personal favorite kind of book. The publisher compares it to Olive Kitteridge, or an Alice McDermott novel. Fair comparisons - meditations on often neglected women. But those books were 300 pages. This one is 640, with very little story to show for it. It could have been much shorter, in my opinion. I'm more of a Dickens or Donna Tartt reader: I like my big sprawling novels to have big sprawling stories to go with them. This book doles out plot very slowly, measured like medicine, a spoonful at a time. Very little happens (which is why I wish the one big development were not spoiled; there aren't others). I'm the reader who hated Middlemarch, and this book is more of a Middlemarch than a Dickens book, in terms of style: poetic and thoughtful. So I can fully recommend it for its craft and skill and emotional acuity. But if you read for story, this might not be the first book you would choose.
106 von 110 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Who Are We, If Not Ourselves? 13. Mai 2014
Von Jill I. Shtulman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
When a debut book sparks a bidding war on both sides of the Atlantic, the inevitable question is, "Is it worth all the hype?"

The answer, I'm pleased to say, is mostly "yes."

Oh sure, there are some quibbles. The opening 100 pages - the background information that fleshes out the characters - could be edited down a bit. A very minor character appears in the second half of the book and I had to wade through pages to remind myself who she was. Another minor character's part could easily have been written out. And so on.

But in general, this is a page-turning novel that will easily appeal to both literary and mass readers because it's so darn good. The focal character is Eileen Leary - wife, mother, nurse, and striver. Upwardly mobile, she marries Ed, a man who is, in many ways, her opposite: a reliably knowledgeable man who lacked the tolerance for superficial interaction, a scientist and professor. Together, they welcome a son, Connell, who becomes the center of their lives.

But - to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw - men dream and the gods laugh and make other plans. The family is tested in an unforeseen way. Each of them must strive to figure out what's important and what's authentic in a life where the future is shady and the rules have been turned upside-down.

This is a book that poses questions that each of us have mulled over in our minds. How do we claim our own lives and live by our own inner radar...as opposed to what we THINK we want? What makes a life worth livable? How do we survive when the odds are long? What endures when little else remains?

Matthew Thomas creates an authenticity in this story and breathes life into his characters. Without giving anything away, the epilogue is beautifully written and encapsulates the book's meaning and purpose. My best guess is that We Are Not Ourselves will be leading the best-seller list when autumn comes around.
49 von 53 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Emotional and heartfelt, if at times a bit sentimental 19. Juli 2014
Von Jeremy Storly - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
It is hard to talk about this book without spoiling it, but I will try my best. This is really about lower middle class people moving into the upper middle class and how they are affected by the changes that take place in their environment and within themselves. They let themselves down, they pick themselves up, the build, they destroy, they embrace, they abandon.

The central focus of this novel is Eileen and her relationship with her husband. Something happens that causes everything to change and which impacts everyone within the family and many without. The build is very gradual, like Ligeti's Lontano, and some have criticised the novel for being a needlessly slow read. I was engrossed in the character development, and although the characters are not consistently likable, they are consistently human. For example, although the characters are in a higher social strata than I am, I was able to understand their desires, frustrations, and losses.

In some ways, this is a book about the myth of the American Dream. The characters believe they have full control over their decisions, that they are the legendary self-made Americans who worked hard to make it to the top. Yet, they are frustrated. It is an empty dream, and striving to reach it produces emptiness and loss, not fulfillment. If this seems Gatsby-esque in its theme, it is certainly not in its content. At its heart, this is pure Naturalism.

The prose is simple and accessible, making it approachable to even the most casual reader. No one should feel intimidated by this book. Despite its length, it is a smooth and captivating read. Unfortunately, at times it becomes a bit sentimental. This is the only reason I hesitatingly give this book four stars instead of five. Sentimentality mars a novel that is otherwise a literary masterpiece.

Still, this book rises above this single flaw, and is certainly worthy of the attention it has received. I would read it again, and I look forward to reading more from Thomas in the future.
108 von 129 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A melancholy read with some touching scenes but overall too slow paced 20. August 2014
Von The Baking Bookworm - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: Lately I've been on a search to find a great sweeping saga of a read - one that spans a couple of generations and has a lot of drama. So when I read the description of this book on NetGalley it seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

This book was described as 'epic in scope' so I suppose I was expecting much more of a intergenerational family saga with lots of energy, familial turmoil, engaging storylines and characters that I could root for. Unfortunately, this book wasn't what I expected and I had a hard time staying interested.

I admit that certain scenes were touching but overall the book felt excessively long and lagged most of the way. I think We Are Not Ourselves focuses so much attention on character development and relationships that the plot and energy waned and got bogged down in small, daily life details.

It didn't help that Eileen wasn't a character that I clicked with at all. She comes off as self-centred and always on the hunt for the 'things' that will make her happy. She was extremely superficial and I didn't connect with her at all. I'm still not exactly sure why Eileen's xenophobia was brought into the storyline either. It didn't seem to give me a better insight into her and made me like her even less than I already did.

Towards the end of this book I was still holding out hope that the author would divulge some big, monumental secret. Some family skeletons that were going to turn things around and give this book some oomph. Unfortunately that big reveal never came. I will say that I found this book, at times, quite touching and emotional due to personal connections that I have with one of the major issues in this book.

I truly wanted to like this book (and my feelings are in the minority with many other reviewers). But while I found this book to be well written unfortunately it was just too slow moving and I wasn't fond of the characters or its unrelenting melancholy.

My Rating: 2/5 stars
41 von 49 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Home, and a sense of ourselves 5. Mai 2014
Von "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I just finished reading and reviewing a novel about home, identity, and how unexpected human developments/illness can capsize lives, called THE ARSONIST, by Sue Miller. And here are those themes again, but in a much different style, plot, and story. Thomas's debut novel is an epic saga, a tersely executed but moving tale of an Irish-American family, and spans a few generations, from the early 1950s to 2011. The story predominantly focuses on Eileen Tumulty, who is a first generation American, and opens when she is just a child. However, it is her married adult life that is the heart of the novel.

The story is both broad and specific. Thomas expands his lens to incorporate Eileen's life experiences growing up in New York, her hard-bitten childhood, especially dealing with her mother's alcoholism and her father's more veiled gambling problems. At the same time, we get a sense of each era that we pass through, but just enough to strengthen the story at hand. Too, as neighborhoods change or gentrify, we see how they evolve from what preceded them. The details of different suburbs in New York City make them come alive, both physically, socially, and emotionally--an analogy to how people evolve in families. Each generation leaves its fingerprint on the next one. Eileen, in her quest for self-improvement, and her status-conscious nature, is tenacious in her ambitions to climb the ladder of success, "the ineffable something she'd been chasing."

Eileen loves to entertain, and to take pride in her home. Her husband, Ed Leary, a quirky academic/scientist, cares little for furnishings and material trappings. He cares about his work and his students, and playing baseball with their son, Connell. Ed has no aspirations to attain financial wealth, especially if it means sacrificing his principles and giving way to what he calls the decadence of capitalism and consumerism. It is all about the students to him. He has no interest in being an administrator, dean, or corporate executive, positions that were offered to him but that he turned down. Eileen was frustrated at his complacency; she yearned for Ed to aspire for more, specifically a climb to the top of the food chain.

"She needed him to be her partner, because she loved him terribly...and so she was going to save him from himself...He needed a real home no less than she did. His mind had grown smaller as he'd bunkered himself in his ideals...He needed to regroup, to see new possibilities, to think bigger than ever. If there was anything she could help him with, it was thinking big."

Life throws some curve balls at the Leary family, and what is most vivid about the book is the gravitas of Eileen, Ed, and Connell. Eileen is the polestar of the family, and I deeply felt every twist and turn in her life. There are chapters devoted to her husband and son, but it was mostly though Eileen's eyes that we experienced their lives.

Despite the large page count, the pages move swiftly--it isn't dense and wordy. The prose is lean and assured, and the characterizations were supple and organic. There were a few times that I felt the story editing could go a bit smoother, as far as which events were captured and which were not. Periodically, I felt I had missed something, and realized it was just that some events that happened offstage were referred to only later, and it came out slightly unnatural. There were also a few anachronisms, like "Oh, snap," said by a character in the 1990s. However, these are minor irritants, and although it may have removed me from the novel for a few seconds, it didn't have severe consequences.

I don't want to cover much detail, as the surprises and developments in the story daunted me as if I were one of the Leary family, a sort of free-fall that I felt for them when life handed them lemons. And, although Eileen is a completely different character than Scarlett O'Hara, both Irish-American women possessed a certain degree of self-possession, and, especially, resourcefulness. Both women had threats to the nature of their home and home lives (one in Civil War, the other in the everyday war of life), and yet they both persevered with determination and resolute aim. It took me no less than 75 pages to really engage, but eventually it fully absorbed my attention.

4.5 rounded up.
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