Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No Place Like Home - Brooke Berman

No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman/Harmony Books/2010/pgs251/ Memoir/Women Coming of Age/New York/Theater-Art Life

In this engaging chronology spanning twenty years, from college to hard-won success, Berman, the award-winning playwright tells her story of searching for home. The once-aspiring performing artist explores the world through vastly different New York neighborhoods, a series of part-time jobs, an enviable stint at Julliard, and slowly increasing acclamation.

She recognizes an undeniable wish in herself to separate from her mother, a wish complicated by the bonds of family and shared history. Even after surviving being raped in her early twenties, and insisting on independence to the point of being homeless and penniless, she is consumed for years in a yo-yo like love affair with Rodney, the wonderless wanderer.

Her writing moves fluidly as she schleps from studio to loft to the occasional luxury apartment. Angst and the unknown become her constant companions, draining energy from her while creating guidance for the reader into Berman's emotional well-being.

The chapters are divided between each dwelling, taking the reader all over New York neighborhoods, boroughs and into the New England states. The overarching message shines through, home is much more than an address and there is no place like home.

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran - Rob Sheffield

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield/Dutton-Penguin Group/2010 /pgs 269/ Memoir/Humor-Music/Pop Culture/Coming of Age

Duran Duran apparently was one of the It bands in the eighties, leading the trends in tight jeans and make-up, redefining gender rules and perhaps the meaning of unisex. They sang about sex and exuded it with every appearance, making girls fall madly in love with every movement. Enter Rob Sheffield, a self-observed awkward geek and adamant Duran Duran fanatic. Talking to Girls chronicles Sheffield's teenage years up to young adult, complete with amusing and hilarious anecdotes sound-tracked to hits of the eighties.

As a confused teenager stranded in the suburbs, mowing lawns, and playing video games, Sheffield spent his time and money pondering women, love, music and himself. Although armed with knowledge from numerous sisters, Rob found most of his answers to life's questions blaring through his ice cream truck radio, gleaning advice from Bowie, Bobby Brown, Madonna, The Replacements and the like. Fans of the eighties will rejoice over Sheffield's sentimental commemoration to its music and pop culture however everyone can relate to the small moments of life and the lingering impressions they leave on us. Sheffield uses every song to mark a moment that impacts his life forever.

Sheffield writes with humor and narrative prose, detailing the internal quest for answers that come across as witty, pensive randomness. The book is a very quick read that kept me smiling until the end. Sheffield has a knack for not only capturing the essence of a song but also the artistic intent behind it, creating a feeling to relate to the song, attaching it to moments in time which we all do. This was a perfect read and I cannot wait to read his previous title, Love is a Mix Tape which I'm sure will be reviewed soon.