Cover Image: Same Bed Different Dreams

Same Bed Different Dreams

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Member Reviews

The novel offers a poignant exploration of family, memory, and the search for identity in a complex and ever-changing world.
Park's prose is elegant and evocative, imbued with a sense of melancholy and longing. His descriptions of New York City are especially vivid, capturing the energy and diversity of the urban landscape with precision and detail. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between siblings, Daniel and Jenny, whose lives take divergent paths as they navigate the challenges of adulthood. Park deftly explores the dynamics of siblinghood, capturing the bond that unites them even as they grapple with their struggles and desires.

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https://lithub.com/lit-hubs-most-anticipated-books-of-2023-part-two/?single=true

Sometimes the simulation is a little on the nose—you see the glitches when trying to make sense of the world in its current iteration. So goes the present-day US for a handful of characters clumped under the “Asian-American” label in Ed Park’s witty and inventive new novel Same Bed Different Dreams, which hinges on a revisionist history in which the Korean Provisional Government of 1919 survives to strategize reunification from behind the Red Window Shade.

What did it mean to be Korean, rather than Japanese, wonders a character whose ethnic inheritance has been shrouded by the aftermath of World War II, a sentiment that extends to cultural touchpoints in the present era, from the Stanley Cup to failing lit mags to the tech aspirations of your local HR department. The novel houses a dream inside a story inside a flashback, and brings together the histories of Soon Sheen, a programmer at a nefarious tech company (GLOAT), Parker Jotter, a Korean war vet turned appliance story owner, Monk Zingapan, a game designer, and Story (Astoria), Soon’s gaming child. Park’s alternate history is written with a dedication to invented facts rivaling Biography of X and The Man in the High Castle. Hurry to snatch a copy, then take your time so you don’t miss all the Easter eggs.

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I did not have time to give this book a proper review before the publish date, however I am giving this book 4 stars.

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I wanted to read this book because the blurb sounded nuts. I’m happy to say, it mostly lives up to that promise.

While the book transverses multiple time periods, timelines, and perspectives, the actual history it’s rooted in helps it make sense (in an insane kind of way), and the necessity of the different parts eventually becomes clearer.

The best thing I can say is that this book sent me down a massive rabbit hole about 20th century Korean history and it seems to be exhaustively researched (Kim Jong Il actually really loved Friday the 13th. Who knew?). But it’s incredibly creative as well, even if I’m not sure it all paid off for me. But I genuinely liked it.

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This intricately and cleverly constructed novel should have been something I totally loved. Instead, I found myself bouncing off the text and it is not because of anything the author did, or didn't do.

This is a novel in three parts (as is cleverly mentioned about an in-story book), and deals with politics, foreign occupation, bigotry, what-if scenarios, actual and revisionist history, privacy, overreach by technology companies, war, immigration, dislocation, and more.

This book has everything that would be catnip for me, and yet I just could not make significant progress through this highly imaginative, astute and humorous novel. I think it's me, and not the book.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Random House Publishing Group - Random House for this ARC in exchange for my review.

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This book was just not for me. I spent a lot of it feeling bored and wanting to put it down and read other things and then come back to it. It jumped around too much and I could not feel a connection to any of the characters. It has so much potential it just wasn’t for me.

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Same Bed Different Dreams was a wild ride. I loved what Park did with structure with the different "books" in the story. I also learned a TON about korean history, so I appreciated that.

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I cannot put this one into words! No idea how they marketed this so effectively--hats off to the publishing team & author. I believe this might be a masterpiece--I just need someone to explain it to me, haha.

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I only have one word for this book, "Odd".

There are three different storylines, and to be honest, I am not quite sure how they all fit together now that I have finished it. That being said though, I still enjoyed the journey immensely.

It reminded me of works by Thomas Pynchon with the way it was written and I did enjoy the elements of Korean history that I previously had not known.

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Frequently lost my way in the labyrinth of Park's densely imagined alternate history, but never in a bad way. Always wanted to learn more.

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I think this book is best enjoyed reading without any big breaks. It felt like I was losing the thread of the story if I didn't read the book for a few days. The book threads different stories together with many characters. Will definitely need to do a deeper read in the future but I think Ed Park did a fantastic job with the writing.

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Same Bed, Different Dreams is an absorbing, hypnotic, immersive view of the real and surreal experience of Koreans in Korea and American at various points of the 20th Century, with a focus on the massive transitions around Japanese occupation and of course the war. It posits a clandestine Korean Provisional Government working in the shadows to prepare for unification, and that anyone doing anything at all supportive of that is a member of the KPG, whether knowingly or not. This includes Marilyn Monroe and other seemingly unrelated folks living their lives.
This is told through the lens of a modern day employee of GLOAT, an all-encompassing network of the future, where of course they still have all the same issues around expecting people to be a certain way based on looks or heritage.
This is very original and mind-bending in the best way.

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Thank you to Random House and Netgalley for this advanced copy.

What an intricate and bizarre novel about Korea? And the meaning of freedom maybe? I have to say I'm not completely sure. The plot of this novel escaped me at times and I had a hard time following the thread, but what I really appreciated about this book was the different story telling styles the author used. In particular, the dream storytelling throughout the book was really interesting and I never really knew how much of it was fiction and now much of it was based on fact and I love that style of writing. This book feels like it would be a great read when you have a long period to sit down, dive in, and immerse yourself in good storytelling.

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Exceptionally weird and I absolutely loved it, though I do wish dream five had been followed by another interlude at GLOAT with Soon.

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It appears I am too dumb for this book. Since it’s out, I will likely revisit at some point because it sounds like something I’d love. But I’m throwing in the towel for the time being.

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Same Bed Different Dreams journeys across the 20th century and beyond to science fiction futures with the common themes of Korean history, pop culture and the effects of technology on society. It is the first theme, Korean history, that serves as the center of the story, tracing the development of the nation, with a large focus on the 20th century, especially the divisions caused by the Korean War. It is a war not completed. Continually, the book asked the question "what is history?"

Having read Park's 2008 book, the largely forgettable New York office culture satire Personal Days, Same Bed Different Dreams is an ambitiously weird post modern romp. Those three themes are represented by three separate narratives. Soon Sheen, a former author, know works for the social media company Gloat for whom he had created some well-known acronyms and generates other content. We first meet him at a dinner party of college friends where he meets Echo, author of a book that shares the name of this one. The second narrative is that book, told through five 'dream' segments that unravel the difficult history of Korea via members of the Korean Provisional Government who's members are tenuous and often identified by actions. The third narrative focuses on Parker Jotter, a Black Korean War veteran and science fiction author.

Full of tangents and digression that brings to mind a Wikipedia wormhole session, Park continually circles back to the key question: "What is history?" History is as fractured as our lives and memories.

A wonderfully readable caper through many different facets of the Korean and American past and present.

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ALTERNATIVE HISTORY? META FICTION? Count me in.

Same Bed Different Dreams puts Ed Park at the top of my list of authors to keep on my radar from here on out. It is an epic undertaking, to provide the amount of depth needed to tell a story within a story within a story, with such a large cast of characters AND while weaving together different narratives in a way that doesn't feel forced. All the while, Park plants seeds toward a larger puzzle/riddle, to encourage readers to think critically about history, who is left out, and who is working from the shadows.

I love how this book engages with real-world politics, history, and people, and it's going on my must-read for AAPI readers!!!

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Wow.
This was a doozy, but what a great way to finish out the year!

I read some reviews here after I finished to get a feel for what others were thinking, and I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the review posted by The Speculative Shelf. So I'll try not to duplicate any of that here. I will say that it took me a good hundred pages or so to really get into this book, and then, I was totally hooked. I am not a re-reader of books, but when I was almost finished I was already plotting how I was going to start again so I could get more out of the beginning. There are so many backstories and little plot twists throughout that it can get confusing, especially if you are like me and not a huge history buff. I did stop several times to check out real events and/or people on the internet, and also to go back in the story—yay for the Kindle search bar.

When I first started reading this, I was reminded of Marisha Pessl's brilliant, slow-building style, so I think fans of her writing will love this too. Honestly, Park has so brilliantly crafted this book it's hard for me to imagine someone who won't like it. It's the kind of book where, if you even see the intersection of the stories coming in advance (because often I didn't), you just nod your head in appreciation, saying to yourself, yes, yes, of course. Definitely recommend.

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Same Bed Different Dreams is the strange, weird, and totally unique novel of
creative genius, Ed Park. I have no idea how to explain it so I will share part of the blurb: "A wild, sweeping novel that imagines an alternate secret history of Korea and the traces it leaves on the present." The characters are a strange assortment but "their links are revealed over time, even as the dreamers remain in the dark as to their own interconnectedness."

At over 500 pages, the story requires commitment from the reader and, truthfully, I almost quit at 25%. I felt like I had no idea what was going on but, shortly thereafter, I was hooked. I am sure that I still don't understand it all. It is a complex story, but for me it was worth it.

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"What is history?"

Or, what was this book? I love post-modern novels, and this one was a challenge! There were so many coincidences and intersections between the three different books/sections that it became hard to follow what was real and what was not. Is the Korean Provisional Government real? Does it matter? Reading this book makes Infinite Jest look downright simple.

If you know Korean history, you might get more out of this than I did. So many tweaks to what happened made it hard for me to know what was real and what was fiction. But if you don't know anything about Korean history but love a literary puzzle, you'll still love this book. My brain is now mush trying to figure out even 50% of the connections. I'm pretty sure I'd have to read it another two or three times to get all the pieces to fit together.

The only theory I have that I'm 75% sure is correct is that the book/section 2333 is somehow a reference to Bolaño's 2666. It's just too much of a coincidence ... which was like everything in this book.

Here's the heart of my review: It's good, and the title is beautiful once you get the context that "same bed, different dreams" is in reference to North and South Korea. They're in the same bed, but they currently have different dreams. To get why that is both sad and beautiful in 1,000 different ways, you'll need to read the book. And then, if you're like me, you'll only understand about 300 of those 1,000 different ways. But those 300 are pretty damn cool.

Story: I'm unsure if there is one; it's a post-modern novel.
Character Development: I'm not sure any characters developed; it's a post-modern novel.
Writing: 5 stars

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