Dan Chaon’s characters remind him of people he knows

In a review of Dan Chaon’s You Remind Me of Me for the Chicago Tribune, Laura Demanski observes that fans of an acclaimed short story writer “tend to hold their breath a little” when that writer publishes his first novel. But there’s no need to turn blue in the face with anxiety over Chaon’s debut, she says. The “sad, lovely, deceptively modest novel” takes “good advantage of his chops as a short-story whiz.” (Via Golden Rule Jones; for user name I used “bookninja” and for password “waaaaa”.)

In discussing the book, Chaon recently explained that “the plot is withheld for the first half” and said he was worried before the book came out that the jacket copy might give too much away. Chaon emphasized his commitment to “writing about the lives of people in their 20s and 30s who don’t go to college and who find their opportunities and options limited not only by a lack of education but also by the lack of anything to do.” He went on:

A lot of contemporary portrayals of working class people show them as TV-watching, Twinkie-eating hicks. Part of what I wanted to show is that there is a searching intellectual and emotional life in people who aren’t educated and who aren’t rich.