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You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

Cover of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow

An intelligent and madly entertaining debut novel reminiscent of The Crying of Lot 49, White Noise, and City of Glass that is at once a missing-person mystery, an exorcism of modern culture, and a wholly singular vision of contemporary womanhood from a terrifying and often funny voice of a new generation.

A woman known only by the letter A lives in an unnamed American city with her roommate, B, and boyfriend, C, who wants her to join him on a reality show called That's My Partner! A eats (or doesn't) the right things, watches endless amounts of television, often just for the commercials—particularly the recurring cartoon escapades of Kandy Kat, the mascot for an entirely chemical dessert—and models herself on a standard of beauty that only exists in such advertising. She fixates on the fifteen minutes of fame a news-celebrity named Michael has earned after buying up his local Wally Supermarket's entire, and increasingly ample, supply of veal.

Meanwhile B is attempting to make herself a twin of A, who hungers for something to give meaning to her life, something aside from C's pornography addiction, and becomes indoctrinated by a new religion spread throughout a web of corporate franchises, which moves her closer to the decoys that populate her television world, but no closer to her true nature.

An intelligent and madly entertaining debut novel reminiscent of The Crying of Lot 49, White Noise, and City of Glass that is at once a missing-person mystery, an exorcism of modern culture, and a wholly singular vision of contemporary womanhood from a terrifying and often funny voice of a new generation.

A woman known only by the letter A lives in an unnamed American city with her roommate, B, and boyfriend, C, who wants her to join him on a reality show called That's My Partner! A eats (or doesn't) the right things, watches endless amounts of television, often just for the commercials—particularly the recurring cartoon escapades of Kandy Kat, the mascot for an entirely chemical dessert—and models herself on a standard of beauty that only exists in such advertising. She fixates on the fifteen minutes of fame a news-celebrity named Michael has earned after buying up his local Wally Supermarket's entire, and increasingly ample, supply of veal.

Meanwhile B is attempting to make herself a twin of A, who hungers for something to give meaning to her life, something aside from C's pornography addiction, and becomes indoctrinated by a new religion spread throughout a web of corporate franchises, which moves her closer to the decoys that populate her television world, but no closer to her true nature.

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About the Author-
  • Alexandra Kleeman has written for the New Yorker, Harper's, Paris Review, Zoetrope, Tin House, VOGUE, and n+1. She received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has received grants and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She was the 2016 winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, and lives in New York.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 11, 2015
    Kleeman's debut novel is a fever dream of modern alienation following A, a young woman living in an unnamed city with B, her roommate, who has a tendency to bite people when she feels cornered. A has a boyfriend, C, who makes things "suddenly, instantaneously normal, just by explaining them." But A's dull proofreading job and her idle time spent watching Shark Week and porn with C start fading away, and events grow increasingly hallucinatory as B begins trying to look more like A (including cutting off her braid and giving it to A), and C becomes more distant. This is a world in which a man buys a supermarket's entire stock of veal, and something called Disappearing Dad Disorder runs rampant. But the strange becomes increasingly ordinary as it's filtered through A's quest to efface herself: "I looked forward to fully becoming my own ghost, which I had been told would resemble nothing and would look uniquely like itself." In the third act, a religious cult in which members wear ghostlike sheets takes center stage; members subsist entirely on a synthetic dessert snack called Kandy Kakes and are instructed to "misremember" (erase their own memories through meditative concentration). Kleeman's story is not really like any other, but could be described as a blend of the nightmarish disassociation of DeLillo's White Noise and the phantasmagoria of Bergman's Persona. It's a testament to Kleeman's ability that the text itself blurs and begins to run together—that it seems composed more of a uniform, ephemeral language than of a series of discrete scenes. This is a challenging novel, but undoubtedly one with something to say. One wonders what Kleeman will come up with next. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment.

  • Paris Review, Staff Pick "The smartest, strangest novel I've read in a while."
  • Vanity Fair "This debut novel by future superstar Alexandra Kleeman will be the thing to be seen reading this summer. Pick it up if you want to up your summer cool factor . . . . .Very funny, perfectly weird, a hyperintelligent commentary on a culture obsessed with you and fame."
  • Los Angeles Magazine "A clever satire of our culture's ever intensifying obsession with health, diet, and body image."
  • New York Times Book Review "You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is a powerful allegory of our civilization's many maladies, artfully and elegantly articulated, by one of the young wise women of our generation."
  • New York Times "The symbols of modern anomie in this novel are familiar (soulless supermarkets, insane mass entertainments, etc.), but Ms. Kleeman has a singular, off-kilter style, and a distinct vision of the absurd horrors that can come with being trapped in a body."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Kleeman's debut novel is a fever dream of modern alienation. . . . not really like any other, but could be described as a blend of the nightmarish disassociation of DeLillo's White Noise and the phantasmagoria of Bergman's Persona. A challenging novel, but undoubtedly one with something to say."
  • Slate "Excellent . . . Sprinkled with detailed summaries of invented advertisements, the book describes a consumer landscape just on the far side of plausible. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is a story about realizing you're hungry and trying to find out what for."
  • Huffington Post "Her darkly satirical debut lays bare the ravages of advertising-fueled culture and consumerism, through a purposefully distorted version of our reality. Fans of DeLillo, Pynchon and Shteyngart are advised to take note."
  • New York Post "This is not a breezy summer read, but it's cerebral, sharp, funny - and worth the ride."
  • The Atlantic "Kleeman plays with an idea of empathy so extreme that it collapses on itself: What if there is no essential difference between humans worth bridging? The result might be an insatiable hunger for something that reminds us of our distinctness."
  • Marie Claire "Don't be fooled by the sassy title-the cravings that lurk beneath the surface in this completely original debut will haunt what a body means to you indefinitely."
  • Chicago Tribune "A satirical and searing critique of modern-day womanhood."
  • New York Magazine, 10 Books We’re Reading Right Now "Funny yet chilling...might make you see the mundane routines of everyday life a little differently."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Kleeman is, clearly, writing in a postmodernist mode. Her ambition is huge, and, at the level of the sentence, she's amazing."
  • Booklist "Absurdist observations evoke masters like DeLillo and Pynchon, as well as the "hysterical realism" of Ben Marcus and Tom Perrotta, bringing a refreshingly feminist frame to the postmodern conversation. While ambitious in scope and structure, sharp humor and brisk storytelling ground the existential angst in Kleeman's page-turning, entertaining performance."
  • Bustle "Alexandra Kleeman's debut novel is brilliant, incisive, and exactly how to send off summer with a bang. Written masterfully, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is a biting cultural indictment on what we see, think, do, and eat — especially while being a woman."
  • Rivka Galchen "My strong preference would be to eat this book and be reconstituted by its intelligence. But with deep gratitude still I will settle for just getting to read this ingenious novel which has eaten up our whole culture...and transubsta
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You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
A Novel
Alexandra Kleeman
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