Posted in books

The elusive beauty of silence + Alexandra Kleeman’s “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine”

a975d88e28cc744db2608987aa5395c4Silence. The most beautiful sound in the world.

My world isn’t all that different than those of my peers: moms of school-age children. We’re running from place-to-place, keeping our children busy and fulfilled, trying to help them become the best people they can be.

Sometimes we try to help them a little too much, but that’s a post for another day.

Running from place to place, with Disney radio blaring in the background. Sitting at home, usually with a TV on in the background. Talking, arguing, singing, laughing. Discussions, questions, demands, requests.

All that noise!

Silence is the most precious commodity in my world. And there are few times I actually take full advantage of it.

I’ve always been a person who thrives with noise in the background. Television, music, the din of a Starbucks. I’ve always found it is easier to lose myself in the noise. I never understood how someone could do anything in without some kind of buzz in the background.

Lately, though, I’ve come to appreciate silence. Maybe it’s because my world seems to get louder and louder, with everyone vying for my attention. The girls, the dogs, my husband (who can talk circles around everyone).

Maybe I used to be lonely, afraid of being alone, afraid of what I would find looking inward. But I’ve gotten older, and, whether I wanted to or not, I had to look inward. And I’m never lonely, and rarely alone.

So those rare, quiet moments are welcomed. I search out the tranquility of stillness. No noise, no music, no talking. Just me and my thoughts.

Silence gives me a chance to get breathe. I know, I sound like a yoga class, but I mean it. Maybe I should do yoga more often.

So, one more of my back-to-school resolutions is more quiet time. More silence. More tranquil, sanguine moments in my life. More lulls, less clamor.

I’m taking this one very seriously. I think silence will make the other aspects of my life a little clearer. By embracing a little silence in my life, I will be able to hear what is important through all the commotion.

Can I get a great big “OOMMM?”

Thank you. Now SHHHH! I’m trying to find quiet.

Okay, onto one of the most talked about books of the fall: You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman.

A very existential look at consumerism, cults, and uniformity with a not so subtle jab at the need for a perfectly fit body, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is brilliant in its perversity.

The Premise

A is a young woman with a job proofreading, living with B, another young woman. A also has a boyfriend, C. As we read, her life spirals more and more into crazy, as she spends her time watching t.v. and porn with C. She’s sure that roommate B is attempting to become her (although she is attempting to look like everyone else), to take over her life. And she’s addicted to one series of commercials for a sweet, synthetic snack called Kandy Kakes starring the never satisfied Kandy Kat.

As the crazy surrounds her, A tells the story in a very straightforward way, making it every more surreal. When C breaks up with her (at least that’s what it seems like he does), A finds her way to New Christian Church of the Conjoined Eater in a search for higher meaning, causing her to lose more and more of  her individuality. Her way out of the Church (a clear jab at Scientology) is a game show called “That’s My Partner!”

Throughout the book there are references to disappearing (and reappearing) dads, large supermarkets called Wally’s (Wal-Mart anyone?), and oranges. Perfection can only be attained when you disappear, and consumerism and the “Church” are very tightly connected.

All in all, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is deep and thoughtful, and not just a little quirky and mind-bending.

My Thoughts

Wow! And Wow!

First, Kleeman is brilliant. A PhD candidate at Berkeley, she first studied cognitive science and creative writing at Brown, and received a Master’s degree from Columbia in fiction. She traveled the world as a child, following her parents, both professors.

Again, brilliant. She plays with language the way my kids play with play dough. Something that I love and truly appreciate.

I had to take breaks though this book just to digest a bit. It is surreal, but full of awesome imagery and deep, deep meaning.

This book would make a killer movie. I can almost see it.

I give this one five stars. It won’t be for everyone. It’s interesting and surreal and way out there. But I loved it.



I love to read; writing is my outlet. My blog is my way to combine the two, with a some life stories thrown in for good measure.

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