David Sedaris told me to read this when I met him at a book signing. I found out later that the camp I go too is the same one the novel is based on, so I can attest that it is very accurate. I have never before read a book and felt such a connection to the story. This novel has made me completely reassess my nine years of summer camp and the life long friendships I have made and lost while there. If you ever were blessed or harmed by the experience of summer camp I recommend this book.
No she has only recorded one other.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
It's just too easy to go for the low hanging fruit and sum this book up as the converse of its title. But then that is exactly the point of the book, that the artistically gifted teen summer campers who dubbed themselves "The Interestings" aren't really special, as one character explicitly admits somewhere along the line -- not even the one character who achieves the pinnacle of success in his chosen art form. Half a century later, they are as uninterestingly ordinary as when they started their little clique.
That's an, uh, interesting premise. But it doesn't necessarily make for interesting reading. It's not that I was uninterested, but I was definitely disinterested -- I just didn't care for them or about them. And it's not for lack of identifying with the characters -- they are exactly my age, from the same city, the same schools, the same career arc, similar artistic endeavors abandoned along the way. In fact, the only character I found at all interesting is the one who is least like me in most ways (still similar in some respects).
I am reminded of the criticism of the movie version of This Is Where I Leave You. I loved that book, in both print and audio, liked the movie well enough. But film critics wondered, "Why would we care about the trivial travails of affluent white suburbanites?" I cared. And yet here I feel nothing for the privileged urbanites of The Interestings, which book critics loved.
I won't try to argue that I'm right in this case where the critics were wrong about TIWILY (if I were to make the case, I'd start with TIWILY being played primarily for laughs, or maybe I'm just a contratrian). But it really all depends on who you like, who you don't like. Maybe these characters will grab you in ways that left me unintersted -- excuse me, disinterested.
Not for the first time in recent memory, I find myself wishing that this book had been heavily edited. Maybe at ten hours, the characterizations would have proven crisper -- lord knows the paucity of plot and action did not require fifteen hours. Thank heavens for Jen Tullock's alacritous reading (her performance is good all around). Actually, I want to read a 250-page book about Jonah. I couldn't care less about the rest of them.
The Interestings, especially as presented by Jen Tullock, is an intriguing, absorbing, funny, poignant story. Avoiding cliches and focusing intently on questions of belonging, class, creativity, and money, it tells the story of four main young people (two peripherals) who meet at a summer camp and stay in contact as they mature. Wolitzer's observations of our expectations of ourselves, parents' dreams for their children, how wealth cushions or complicates our lives, are all trenchant and thought-provoking. A bonus is the storyline following Ethan, the oddball cartoonist who creates the "Figland Empire," a media creation that bears close parallels to "The Simpsons." Highly, highly recommended--and hats off to Jen Tullock, for her amazing narration.
Story was Ok, Narration was pretty bad, she spoke so fast I actually thought I had hit the speed control in error. I almost returned it without listening but because the chacters were exactly my age I plowed on and you do get used to the speed reading after awhile. These people weren't anything like the folks I grew up with, while I loved reliving, Nixon, Watergate, Munich, and the Berlin wall, that was all I had in common with these people. I just couldn't bring myself to care about any of them.
I didn't finish the book. I am going to read it instead of having a tedious speaker reading to me.
I found this appealing but I'm sure many listeners will be annoyed by the mostly well-off East Coast young people whining about what they don't have or can't do. It could have been shorter. Also it's mostly in chronological order but then items will be thrown in out of order for no particular reason.
The characters' happiest times are in high school at their arts camp. For many of us, being an adult is way better than adolescence but those people keep trying to return to their youth, which of course never works.
The narration is very good and it kept my attention. It's an interesting contrast with Shotgun Lovesongs, which is also about a group of friends in middle age regretting their lost youth. I think that one was deeper than this book.
I typically listen to mysteries or thrillers because they engage my attention more than literary fiction, which can be easy to stray from while driving, etc. But The Interestings thoroughly engaged my attention no matter where I was when I listened. In fact, I looked forward to driving, exercising, whatever and whenever I could just to be able to get back into the story.
What I liked:
• The writing. Wolitzer is a master of the meaningful metaphor. Her analogies are pitch perfect.
• The characters. Wonderfully drawn, fully human, the characters come to life, and you feel you really get to know them as people -- sometimes that's good, sometimes not so much.
• The narration. Well paced and engagingly delivered. Jen Tullock reads like she enjoyed what she was doing.
• The story. The tale explores the lives of 8 young people who meet at a summer camp for the arts, and traces their lives into middle age. We discover through them what it means to have dreams dashed and dreams fulfilled -- and that sometimes it is difficult to determine which is best.
This is a great book and a terrific listen.
Jen Tullock brings the book alive, giving each character a unique, real voice.
The story is enthralling, moving you through the lives of several people over many decades, some deeply, some only fleetingly. The chapters are not chronological, but that's not a hindrance.
I enjoyed this book because it reminded me of my friends and me growing up. Just a bunch of friends who stay pretty much who they were throughout their lives. We're all supposed to grow up and live and learn, but in the end, do we? Well written and fun.
Avid listener, busy mom.
How well the aging of the characters was portrayed believably.
A Happy Marriage, except there are many more characters in this book than there were in Rafael Yglesias' book.
No. Her voice was resonant and pertinent.
This was a long book that took me through our trip to France & The Hamptons. It's versatile and easy to appreciate & enjoy in a casual, summer way.