Elizabeth Brundage: A Stranger Like You

G his mundane life He is inches from a movie deal when a producer puts the kibosh on the whole project He exacts his revenge by subjecting the producer to a scene from his screenplay He drugs her puts her in the trunk of her vintage BMW drives to LAX and parks leaving the keys in the ignition The plight of the producer is the thread that links a number of interesting characters This story is about the internal struggles of these characters and their ability or inability to cope with the life that s been dealt to them than about the fate of the producer Great story I picked up this book 2 ears ago and just recently picked it back up to finish GOOD LORD I wish I had finished this sooner Once I started up again I could not stop This book is definitely worth a read Early on in A Stranger Like You one character asks another what kind of person can create characters who are absolute monsters The idea is that someone who can write about a fictional person committing atrocious acts is also very capable of committing those same acts as well With that in mind I m a little hesitant to put my opinion out on the internet but since I won a First Reads copy here goes nothing If I disappear in the near future consider this Estimating centrifugal compressor performance your official lead The character who asks the aforementioned uestion Hedda Chase is a Hollywood producer who un green light s the screenplay of one seriously deranged dude As a partial explanation she says that people don t really want gratuitous sex and violence in their movies but that that is all that Hollywood is putting before them so they re taking what they re given And that s exactly how I feel I like thrillers and love stories as much as the next person but it has to advance the plot And I cannot stand characters who are evil just because the plot calls for them to be And that s all there is here Dark scene after dark scene getting progressively and unpleasant to read If I hadn t felt obligated to finish I wouldn t have read than a handful of chapters There is not a single character to root for in the entire book They re all either completely despicable or just too bland to be cared about Brundage s attempts at humanizing the antagonist only serve to make him heinous as a person and the book that much unpleasant to readThe time line is not chronological which is pretty confusing especially since at the first it also switches to second person And let s be honest second person is really only good for chooseour own adventure books Especially since it takes a while to figure out who Falling Under (Walker Security you are The messed up time line didn t add anything to the story either except to advance it s political agenda and I for one do NOT read novels for propaganda If I want to hearour message ou better write some good non fiction because that crap does not belong in my pleasure readingTo be fair the writing itself is very good from a technical point of view However good writing can t make up for the utter lack of enjoyment of what ou re readingIf Lords of the Press you re into torture porn like the Saw moviesou ll probably really enjoy this one To the normal cross section of society I say stay far far away Hugh is very upset when he finds out the Hollywood screen play which had been accepted has now been withdrawn by a new executive Hedda Chase He flies to Los Angeles stalks Hedda ties her up and puts her in the trunk of her car she claims it was trite and the person would have escaped under the same circumstances in his screenplay and leaves the car parked under a light with the keys on the seat at the Los Angeles airport There are then a couple of chapters about Hugh s stay in Los Angeles Part II goes back to before the abduction but it was confusing at first because it still describes what Hugh is doing and then brings in Hedda I wasn t sure at first if she had escaped Among the other characters are an Irai exchange student Daisy a Lifes a Pitch young girl living on her own who plays the harmonica and Denny an Ira veteran with combat stress We don t find out what happened to Hedda until the finale Part 5 It all starts with a PremiseHugh Waters was so excited that he had sold his script His whole life was about to change Then a new person was put in charge so the contract was canceled He believed the new person Hedda Chase was wrong when she said NO to his project So Hugh jumped on a plane to Los Angeles just to talk to her make her see the script was goodThe conversation didn t go as planned when she declared his story unbelievable Stressed to a breaking point Hugh decided to reenact the terrifying ending using Miss Chase as the victim Now her life hangs in the balance when Hugh plan takes an unplanned turnThis is story about how far someone may go t A hauntingly written narrative about several misfits who through a variety of circumstances come together to have a major impact on each other s lives We first meet Hugh Waters an insurance salesman who is a writer wanna be He has left his wife in New Jersey and traveled to Los Angeles to confront a renowned film producer Hedda Chase who has rejected Hugh s screenplay It soon becomes uite apparent that Waters is psychologically disturbed and his actions set the tone for the rest of the novelAs the novel develops we are able to follow Hedda s relationship with Tom Chase another screenwriter one with whom Hedda has fallen in love And then there is Denny aoung veteran of the Ira war He comes into the picture after meeting a oung vagrant Daisy whose life intersects with Hugh s through a chance meeting at a dinerEach of these characters has led a troubled life and their subseuent interactions reflect that As they come together the actions taken impact them as individuals in addition to impacting their relationships with one another A Stranger Like You portrays the need for self knowledge and self esteem and the ways in which each of these traits lays the foundation for interpersonal relationships A very interesting and beautifully written novel This book was really hard to rate it s a 25 Definitely not one of my favorites by Elizabeth Brundage I had high hopes for it since I LOVED all her other books I didn t like any of the characters Denny had the most redeeming ualities but just made really bad choices Hugh was just plain awful and a horrible man The ending just sort of happened and was blah. Ke its course This is the set up for a troubling smart deadly look at women and images of women at media as a high stakes game and the selling of a war as theatre One key character is an Ira veteran and one of Hedda's projects is a film about women in Ira Brundage's Los Angeles is a casual battleground that trades carelessly in lives and dreams As always her characters are complicated surprising and intense in this high velocity provocative novelWatch a Vid.

REVIEW A Stranger Like You

Ugh Waters villain Anyone living in contemporary America is likely to accept Waters as et another example of the dangerous male murderer the stranger next door Unlike his New Jersey insurance company colleagues Waters hopes to be something than a 9 to 5 desk jockey Isn t that a good thing Yet when his dreams are interrupted we re asked to believe he has no trouble becoming a cold blooded killerSomebody Else s Daughter is the most successful of Brundage s three novels in large part because her treatment of social issues drugs pornography sexual deviancy adultery et al don t overwhelm her characters as the issue of abortion overwhelms the characters in The Doctor s Wife and the treatment of women by Hollywood overwhelms A Stranger Like YouMy biggest problem with Somebody Else s Daughter is the 10 page unlabeled initial section of the book which some readers in my book club didn t realize until I had pointed it out was a letter written by one of the main characters at the moment of giving up his daughter for adoption Brundage uses the techniue of confusing the reader with content at the beginning of all three books Although Lydia s internal dialogue at the beginning of The Doctor s Wife actually occurs after the story ends the foreshadowing is largely lost A Stranger Like You begins with a page of Hollywood story themes Greed leads to destruction lust leads to obsession love leads to happiness repeated over an over to the bottom of the page This criticism of the formulaic approach to movie making is both obscure and off puttingWhen a writer has an ulterior motive to writing a novel it is hard to avoid creating stereotypical characters To Brundage s credit her villains are not stick figures although the sadistic murderer in Somebody Else s Daughter comes close Brundage allows her bias against those she doesn t agree with turn them into villains In the first two books rural white fundamentalists are cruel and criminal Brundage takes her disdain for fundamentalists one step beyond historical evidence suggesting a group could act in unison to commit a murder Individuals have done terrible things but I don t know of a situation where a minister has convinced a group to engage in such actsIn the final analysis this reader didn t buy either Lydia Haas or Hugh Waters In Lydia s case it was her decision to save Michael Knowles while killing a homeless man in his stead that didn t work for me Waters unformulated plan to show Chase that the ending to his script was plausible reuires the reader to accept the idea that his man has become unglued by the canceling of his movie contract Both stretches are essential and neither worked for me I give her credit however for trying and for coming closeAlso worth noting is Brundage s treatment of her protagonists There are no heroes in The Doctor s Wife Annie gives herself to Simon Haas when neglected by her doctor husband who puts his family last on his list of priorities Somebody Else s Daughter has several good guys while in A Stranger Like Me Hedda is clearly the hero as it is she who in the end dispatches the villain Finally Brundage deserves praise for her treatment of Jews and Judaism In Somebody Else s Daughter she describes a character s moral conversion during a Yom Kippur service and in A Stranger Like You Hedda Chase is forced to come to terms with her having abandoned her upbringing Both treatments are presented in a sensitive and compelling manner There is much to praise in these novels Even where she comes up short Brundage pushes against the boundaries of modern culture asking her characters to confront the implications of their decisions and behavior Let s see whom she goes after next SPOILERS GALORE Sorry to say this was my least favorite of Brundage s books It was disappointing for me since her other 2 books make my favorite list This was too Hollywood and not believable much like Hugh s script The Adjuster maybe that was the pointhmmm Part 1 Hugh s voice was good not great However as soon as Part Two arrived I uickly lost interest didn t really care how Hedda bought her car and her relationship with Tom bla bla etc Denny Daisy and her little rat raised my interest but not enough Like Jodi Picoult Brundage usually does switch points of view but I did not like it this time It aggravated me Unfortunately I was so disgruntled with the middle that the so called thrilling finale just didn t thrill me I could believe the actions Hugh took when he kidnapped Hedda to prove his ending but then when he puts Bruno in the airport all tied up beats up Tom nope not buying it I did love the way Brundage describes the scenes of LAHollywood from the view of Hugh I spent some time in these circles Hugh describes and I felt similarly not being in the industry and from a small town The parties and people were surreal It was nice to visit that again page 9 At this party people looked at him with curiosity as if they were wondering who he was or what he did or what he d done and because there was always the possibility that he was someone important important perhaps than a few of the other guests they smiled at him with interest as if knowing him might be good for them Brundage s attempt to incorporate many issues was appreciated but did not succeedhow far will one go to make dreams come true to escape his dead end life Hollywood idiosyncrasies Ira war damaged veterans women Fatima messed up relationships too many thingsnot tied up very well One main problem is I didn t like or care about one character in this book There was no one to root for This book does not ualify as a thriller but the story could be a thrilling movie like all of Brundage s booksAnd poor poor MarionI sincerely felt bad for that wifetalk about Mixed Tape Series Volume your husband going through a midlife crisis I guess I liked herOh the ending Come on There s something beautiful about a woman making her escapeHeading west Straight into the sun Ok Brundageou slammed that Hollywood endingIf ou haven t read Doctor s Wife or Someone Else s Daughter by Brundage I super highly recommend them Excellent books page turners amazingly interesting characters that I really cared about descriptive images that burn our mind My third free book from the Goodreads giveaway program An insurance underwriter writes a screenplay with the hopes of changin. Ript was his ticket out until Hedda tampered with his plans claiming his violence was over the top his premise not credible and his ending implausible Hugh decides to prove otherwise by staging his script's ending and casting Hedda Chase as the victim He flies to Los Angeles and finds Hedda kidnaps her and locks her in the trunk of her vintage BMW in the parking lot at LAX He leaves the keys in the ignition the parking ticket on the dash and lets destiny ta.

This is a crime novel that I d happily recommend to anyone while at the same time warning them that they might very well not like it Brundage switches from one viewpoint character to another throughout her tale which is constructed as if almost a collection of novellas she also uses several different narrative styles from uasi hardboiled third person straightforward past tense to second person present tense hifalutin Call this sort of narrative ostentation pretentious if All the Devils are Here you like but me I like a good dose of pretentiousness and by the time I neared the novel s end the pages were turning as rapidly as if I were reading Michael Connelly or Val McDermidHugh Waters is an unhappily married closet bisexual insurance guy in New Jersey who has managed to sell to a Hollywood studio his screenplay for a thriller about a fellow who locks a woman in the trunk of his car then leaves the car at an airport long term parking lot But the studio producer who bought the script has died and been replaced by newcomer Hedda Chase who loathed Hugh s script and canned the project So Hugh comes out to Hollywood to confront Hedda face to face and teach her a lesson drugging her putting her into the trunk of her own car and leaving said car in the airport parking lotTrouble is just like in Hugh s script the car is then stolen by a petty criminal who doesn t realize there s someone in the trunk in fact by semi crippled Ira vet Denny guilty of war crimes but not so guilty as some of his comrades It takes a while for Denny and his picked up girlfriend Daisy to realize they have as it were a clandestine passenger The uestion then becomes rather one of the uestions becomes what will Denny who s no stranger to gratuitous killing do about this situationI completely admire Brundage s attempt to use a virtuoso array of narrative styles in the telling of her tale and for the most part I bought it At the same time she didn t uite pull it off not uite I groaned every time I came across a laylie illiteracy importantly Brundage like so many of her contemporaries is incompetent in the use of the various past tenses while narrating in the present tense It s not that bloody difficult frankly and it really interferes with the smoothness of the reading when a writer gets it wrong even when the reader doesn t realize why the narrative seems to hiccupNeither of those two is a major complaint well the second is a bit and like a gweat big gwown up boy I was able to get past them both As I say I loved the way that Brundage s shifts of viewpoint and narrative voice kept throwing me off balance Ifou have a great tale to tell as Brundage has here this is the kind of way ou ought to risk telling it Readers who shy away from rollercoasters because of the risk factor probably won t like the book others might The Strangers Among Us Three by Elizabeth BrundageThe Doctor s Wife Plume 2005Somebody Else s Daughter Plume 2009A Stranger Like You Plume 2011There are many things to praise about Elizabeth Brundage s novels She tackles controversial topics innovatively through the interplay of highly drawn out characters she is in command of the language the reader is never jerked out of the story by a wrong word or confusing image and her plotting keeps the reader s interest to the last paragraph But there is also much to discuss in these novels Using fiction for political ends is a risky business In The Doctor s Wife Brundage attacks fundamentalist anti abortionists In A Stranger Like You she goes after Hollywood s treatment of women Her agenda in Somebody Else s Daughter is less in our face hence in my opinion it s the best of the threeEach of Brundage s stories is told through multiple characters In The Doctor s Wife the main characters are Annie Knowles who is married to Michael a doctor who decides to spend the little free time he has working in an abortion clinic run by a former lover Simon Haas an artist who seduces Annie and Simon s wife Lydia the most complex character in the story Lydia is Marilyn Monroe had she run away with an artist instead of been discovered by Hollywood A natural beauty Lydia falls in with a group of fundamentalists who kidnap Michael with the intent of killing him in retribution for his murder of fetuses I have several problems with Lydia starting with the idea that she could run off at age 14 Lydia had been living in Fulton County in upstate New York with her father who was dying of cancer Simon Haas a 36 ear old art student discovers her on a trip searching for subjects to paint When Lydia s father dies Haas has no trouble spiriting her off to New York City as if the officials at her school and the county department of social services would ignore her disappearance In a conflicting but necessary twist Haas continues to pay the electric bill on her family s dilapidated house which means public agencies could have tracked him downHaas becomes a famous artist by virtue of his nude paintings of Lydia His fame eventually gets him a teaching job at a Catholic college in Albany New York the college where Annie an iconoclastic journalist who has written an article on late term abortion that got the attention of the anti abortion community teaches English Haas is a rake and Lydia who feels guilty about Haas having arranged an abortion after she d been impregnated by a community agency employee before he met her appears unable to become pregnant That is the backdrop to Haas seduction of Annie and Lydia s participation in the attack on Dr Knowles In A Stranger Like You Brundage rakes Hollywood for its treatment of women The story is told through two characters Hedda Chase a Jewish Ivy leaguer who becomes a producer at a large Hollywood studio and Hugh Waters a would be screen writer whose previously purchased script is killed by ChaseChase the heroine of A Stranger Like You bucks the system by remaining single despite fighting loneliness and by producing a movie that tells the story of a woman who is stoned to death in Ira on the dubious grounds that she spent several days trapped with an American soldier in a bomb ruin Waters is the wild card an outsider who fits into the alienated male dominated Hollywood culture despite or maybe because of being a sociopathReaders who are sympathetic to Brundage s portrait of Hollywood may not uail at her A taut and terrifying thriller about the lengths to which we'll go to make our dreams come true Hedda Chase is a top flight executive producer at Gladiator Films fast tracked in the business since she graduated from Yale An aggressive businesswoman she recently pulled the plug on a film project initiated by one of her predecessors The screenwriter on the project was Hugh Waters a wannabe with a dead end marriage and a day job at an insurance company This sc.

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ELIZABETH BRUNDAGE graduated from Hampshire College attended the NYU film school was a screenwriting fellow at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles and received an MFA as well as a James Michener Award from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop She has taught at Skid College Bard's Simon's Rock College Trinity College the University of Hartford and the Rochester Institute of T