You Remind Me of Me

“The sun came out from the dark clouds with a kind of insistence, almost violent.”

Unfortunately, the sun came out too late for me on Wednesday. I had tagged along with the husband on his office’s one-night retreat in Sonoma. Forecast? A rather rare summer storm. That meant no sitting by the inn’s poolside or in their lovely gardens. Instead, I stayed in the pretty nice room, and read and read (and ok, watched some Food Network shows and TLC’s What Not To Wear – we don’t have TV at home as I mainly watch stuff on Netflix or Hulu), and napped, and listened to music. The husband’s schedule was jam-packed with activities, so lunch, dinner and lunch were on my own, and luckily I had a pretty good book to accompany me over my Kobe beef burger and steak fries.

I kind of loved You Remind Me of Me, although its characters are sad sad creatures. The kind you want to pat on the back and say, there there, but after that, you know that nothing you do can make them feel better. The lives of Jonah, Troy and Norma are rather depressing, rather lonely, the kind which makes you glad for your own simple life. Jonah has a traumatic childhood (he’s physically scarred from a dog attack and mentally scarred by a mother who didn’t really care for him), and is looking for the brother he never knew. The story is also told through the eyes of the teenaged Norma, residing in a home for unwed mothers (who are forced to slip on tin rings when they hit the town for excursions). Troy, Jonah’s older brother, tends bar and deals drugs, but is devoted to his little boy. It is not an action-packed book. It is quite a sentimental, perhaps even melodramatic, book. And, as you can tell from what I’ve described above, it’s a little depressing. It’s one of those stories that are set in small towns – the kind you just can’t wait to get out of. And the narration does confuse a little, as it flits back and forth between the characters. It doesn’t sound very promising I know. So here’s the but wait! moment. You Remind Me of Me is a story of despair written by a guy who can really write. There were these moments where I’d go, oh, I have to write this down. But then, after I did, I’d realise, oh, that’s kinda sad. Like this one.

…the true mystery of life was not that we are all going to die, but that we were all born, that we were all once little babies like this, unknowingly and slowly reeling in the world, gathering it loop by loop like a ball of string. The true terror was that we once didn’t exist, and then, through no fault of our own, we had to.

You see what I mean? Reading that passage, you go, uh-huh, exactly. Then at the end, it’s an aww, that’s kind of depressing.

Anyway, I’m glad I finally picked up Chaon’s book. He’s been on my TBR list for too long.

Title: You Remind Me of Me

Author: Dan Chaon (author’s website)
Year: 2004
Pages: 368
Acquired from: The Library

Chaon’s other works:
Novels
Await Your Reply (2009)

Short Story Collections
Fitting Ends (1996)
Among the Missing (2001)

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