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The Interestingsby Meg Wolitzer
Occasionally, you encounter a book that devastates you just because it has to end. The Interestings is one of those remarkable books that you start living in... and, emerging, you are all the richer for the resultant, uncomfortable reflection.
Synopses & Reviews
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules's now-married best friends, become shockingly successful — true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
"Remarkable...[The Interestings's] inclusive vision and generous sweep place it among the ranks of books like Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot. The Interestings is warm, all-American, and acutely perceptive about the feelings and motivations of its characters, male and female, young and old, gay and straight; but its also stealthily, unassumingly, and undeniably a novel of ideas....With this book [Wolitzer] has surpassed herself.” The New York Times Book Review
"A victory...The Interestings secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation....She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's." Entertainment Weekly
"The big questions asked by The Interestings are about what happened to the world (when, Jules wonders, did 'analyst' stop denoting Freud and start referring to finance?) and what happened to all that budding teenage talent. Might every privileged schoolchild have a bright future in dance or theater or glass blowing? Ms. Wolitzer hasn't got the answers, but she does have her characters mannerisms and attitudes down cold." The New York Times
"I don't want to insult Meg Wolitzer by calling her sprawling, engrossing new novel, The Interestings, her most ambitious, because throughout her 30-year career of turning out well-observed, often very funny books at a steady pace, I have no doubt she has always been ambitious....But The Interestings is exactly the kind of book that literary sorts who talk about ambitious works...are talking about....Wolitzer is almost crushingly insightful; she doesn't just mine the contemporary mind, she seems to invade it." San Francisco Chronicle
"A supremely engrossing, deeply knowing, genius-level enterprise....The novel is thick and thickly populated. And yet Wolitzer is brilliant at keeping the reader close by her side as she takes her story back and forth across time, in and out of multiple lives, and into the tangle of countless continuing, sometimes compromising, conversations." Chicago Tribune
"Readers may also enjoy comparing The Interestings with Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children ....In probing the unpredictable relationship between early promise and success and the more dependable one between self-acceptance and happiness, Wolitzer's novel is not just a big book but a shrewd one." Christian Science Monitor
"Wolitzer follows a group of friends from adolescence at an artsy summer camp in 1974 through adulthood and into late-middle age as their lives alternately intersect, diverge and reconnect....Ambitious and involving, capturing the zeitgeist of the liberal intelligentsia of the era." Kirkus (starred)
"In Meg Wolitzer's lovely, wise The Interestings, Julie Jacobson begins the summer of '74 as an outsider at arts camp until she is accepted into a clique of teenagers with whom she forms a lifelong bond. Through well-tuned drama and compassionate humor, Wolitzer chronicles the living organism that is friendship, and arcs it over the cours of more than thirty years." O, the Oprah Magazine
"[The Interestings] soars, primarily because Wolitzer insists on taking our teenage selves seriously and, rather than coldly satirizing them, comes at them with warm humor and adult wisdom." Elle
"Juicy, perceptive and vividly written." NPR.org
About the Author
Meg Wolitzer's previous novels include The Wife, The Position, The Ten-Year Nap, and The Uncoupling. She lives in New York City.
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