Synopses & Reviews
Shulman, a chubby, middle-aged stationery-store owner from New Jersey, has always claimed that he's been gaining and losing the same thirty-five pounds since junior high and that if you added all of that discarded weight together, he had lost an entire person. Another Shulman. A Shulman he never really cared for. A Shulman he'd always tried to lose by dieting and exercising. A Shulman he'd cover by wearing extra-large shirts in an attempt to hide his existence.
This has been just a joke until, at a crossroads marked by overwhelming marital and business stress, he actually encounters this Other Shulman an incredibly successful man who's made life and career choices that Shulman has spurned.
At first, the Other Shulman is but a mere nuisance, a source of frustration brought about by mistaken identity. But as time goes by, his actions become increasingly destructive and threaten to sabotage all aspects of Shulman's existence.
The struggle between the two Shulmans comes to a head while Shulman is running in the New York City Marathon. And it is during the course of this race, as he runs through the old neighborhoods where his life took shape, that this ordinarily passive family man examines all the choices he's made and realizes that in order for him to get his life back on track he must confront and overcome his haunting demons as presented in the form of this angry doppelganger, this Other Shulman.
In 26.2 chapters, one for each mile of the marathon, The Other Shulman is a hilarious and affecting tale of identity and aspiration from one of America's best-known comic writers.
"Told via flashbacks as its protagonist runs the New York City marathon, this very likable effort from a former Saturday Night Live writer is the story of T.O. Shulman, New Jerseyan, stationary store owner and father of three who's gained and lost enough pounds to make 'another Shulman.' The novel takes its cues from the same green lawns of suburbia that have enchanted writers from John Updike to Chang-rae Lee, but it is Tom Perrotta, with his more quotidian approach to the problems of suburbanites, to whom this work owes its biggest debt. Shulman, in a rut, has decided that his path to salvation is 26 miles long. A fading marriage, absent children and the imminent failure of his business are further complicated by his discovery of a doppelganger, a real 'other Shulman,' owner of a mega-stationery store who symbolizes the decline of the Capra-esque smalltown ideal in which displays of vanity and ambition are suspect. But as Shulman's legs grow stronger, his nascent will begins to assert itself in his escalating battle against the cynical manipulations and spiritual falsity that his twin represents. The book wavers by adopting a kind of last-minute ad hoc magical realism that muddles questions about exactly how real Shulman's enemy is, but it nevertheless tells a winning tale." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] comic midlife-crisis novel about a chunky fellow who decides to run the New York City Marathon....Shulman himself may not hold any surprises, but Zweibel's prose is full of them." New York Times
About the Author
An original Saturday Night Live writer, Alan Zweibel has won numerous Emmy and Writers Guild awards for his work in television, which also includes Its Garry Shandlings Show (which he co-created and produced), PBSs Great Performances, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. His many critically acclaimed theater credits include Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Romantic Comedy, which he adapted from his own book, as well as collaborating with Billy Crystal on his one-man 700 Sundays. He recently published a childrens book titled Our Tree Named Steve, and his fiction has appeared in such diverse publications as Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, and Mad magazine.
Alan and his wife, Robin, live in Los Angeles and New Jersey and have three children, Adam, Lindsay, and Sari.
From the Hardcover edition.