Audie Award Nominee, Literary Fiction, 2013
A heartwarming novel about larger-than-life characters and second chances....
Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career - if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel’s mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur’s. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene’s unexpected phone call to Arthur - a plea for help - that jostles them into action. Through Arthur and Kel’s own quirky and lovable voices, Heft tells the winning story of two improbable heroes whose sudden connection transforms both their lives. Like Elizabeth McCracken’s The Giant’s House, Heft is a novel about love and family found in the most unexpected places.
©2012 Liz Moore (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“A suspenseful, restorative novel from one of our fine young voices.” (Colum McCann, National Book Award–winning author)
“In Heft, Liz Moore creates a cast of vulnerable, lonely misfits that will break your heart and then make it soar. What a terrific novel!” (Ann Hood, best-selling author of The Red Thread)
“This is the real deal, Liz Moore is the real deal - she’s written a novel that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.” (Russell Banks, Pulitzer Prize finalist)
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Clearly I am not the right audience for this book. The inner workings of the two main characters were not that interesting to begin with and certainly not captivating enough for hours of listening. For a story with such a simple plot, there was WAY too much detail. The narration was just fine. It's the book that's the problem. It should have been a short story.
Which came first... the books or the glasses?
I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed the story very much. The narration was very good.
I got this book based on your reviews and I wasn't disappointed- really enjoyed this story and the characters...I wish there had been more, but I understand why it ended like it did...
This book was completely different than I expected it to be. It was the high praise and the fine reviews that kept haunting me to purchase this book and I am so glad I did. From the name and scanning reviews, one thinks it has to do with weight in a physical sense when the weigh in the title has more to do with the emotional weigh we carry.
Heft is a fine example of a heavy book dealing with a lot of sad issues that, rather than being a depressing story, it’s compelling and hopeful tale that keeps you hooked from beginning to end. Yes, there could have been more resolution – but, there is always hope for a sequel.
Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
The first really, really fat fictional character I met was John Kennedy Toole's (1937 - 1969) Ignatius P. Reilly, the hero of "A Confederacy of Dunces" (1980). No, the dates aren't typos - and neither is 1981, the year Toole's book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Toole's Reilly is New Orleans personified, in all of its excess, insular and corpulent glory.
Liz Moore's 550 pound Arthur Opp of "Heft" (2012) is no Ignatius P. Reilly, but Opp, the reclusive, disgraced night school college professor bears an uncanny literary resemblance to the actual writer Toole. Moore has an MFA from Hunter College, where Toole was an instructor long before Moore was born. I've never taken a writing class, but in my imagination, college professors of both sexes wear tweed blazers with leather elbow patches, a la Reilly; scuffed brown loafers with tassels; and stride confidently in front of a full classroom making Important Observations about Prize Winning Literature that will Inspire eager new college students.
Opp the literary character never inspired anyone except Yonkers-born and raised Charlene Turner. Charlene went to one semester of night school, dropped out, married, and had a son, Arthur "Kel" Keller. After her divorce, Charlene got a job at Westchester Prep School, where students dress carefully in The Right Clothes and a Mercedes for their 16th birthday is a modest gift. Kel is allowed to attend, and fits in surprisingly well. Kel may be from the wrong zip code, but an ace three sport athlete is welcome just about anywhere.
Both Opp's and Kel's lives are fragile constructs, and as William Butler Yeats famously said, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold" ("The Second Coming," 1919). If Charlene Turner was the centre, "Heft" is the story of the fall and eventual rise of both men.
"Heft" uses two narrators. The Opp narrator, Keith Szarabajka, sounds quite large and almost out of breath. The performance reminded me a bit of Adam Arkin's performance as Dale Biederbeck in the television show "Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale" (2002). Kirby Heyborne was convincing as a teenager.
[If this review helped please press YES. Thanks!]
The readers were just very good.I felt the author captured real, true emotions.....not over-the-top, but down-to-earth. I've never liked an open-ended book, I think, because they really do have one obvious outcome-so why not finish it? But not this one.....so many possibilities.
Both main characters were so needy. Yet slowly, slowly hurtling toward each other through no fault of their own. Yolanda was such an unusual character too.
The opening of the door-at last.
After listening to Kel's YA hemming and hawing, I wanted a different ending for him and Arthur. I was really disappointed that Liz Moore, after so much great character development, copped out by not exploring her characters' trajectories. There was so much left undone that it leads me to wonder whether she is writing a book 2 and planning to make this a series.
Arthur's character was so amazingly represented and well written. I enjoyed listening to the narration for his character. Kel's character was also well narrated.
Arthur Opp was wonderful and I appreciated his complexity but I enjoyed spending time with Yolanda. She was bright, knew how to explore opportunities without taking advantage, and seemed to really get Arthur.
Kel Keller's chapters took this book deep into YA territory, which is a genre I have been trying to avoid lately.
Yes. I found Arthur endearing in the honesty of his remarks about his life. Keith Szarabajka's voice was perfect for Arthur's persona, which made this character believable. I did not expect to develop the compassion that ensued upon following Arthur's life and dissappointments. Contrasted and yet similarily dissappointed in life, the young Kel Keller was expertly portrayed by Kirby Heyborne; for which compassion of his tribulations fell in place almost immediately.
The dual story line--how they paralleled but did not intersect.
With the wonderful way that Liz Moore builds this story, I found both main characters equally as memorable. What would be the point of one with out the other?
Love's many faces
Arthur Opp was undoubtedly my favorite character. I became his cheerleader throughout the story. From the first preview listen to the completion of the book, the professor's humanity tugged at my soul. The professor had many insecurities and vulnerabilities that began in his childhood. We all have insecurities and it was easy to identify with him as a result. With such a limited support system, it was easy to see how he had allowed himself to dwell in a self-imposed prison. With each chapter, I found myself rooting for him as he attempted to overcome his personal issues to get past the traumas of his life.
Authenticity. When reading we often perceive characters in the manner in which we can best identify. Kirby and Keith were able to present the characters with the same traits my mind's ear would have heard them as having.
I would take Charlene out to dinner. She was equally traumatized by life as was the professor. I would have encouraged her not to isolate herself from the professor, because they needed each other.
The story made you think of the "what if's" and the "only if's" about these characters' lives. Just as everyone looks back on their own lives of the paths they left untraveled. In spite of the "what if's", I was satisfied with the conclusion.
"A book with weight"
The narrator of Arthur Opp is especially excellent.
When Arthur goes for a walk for the first time. Never has a journey to the park being such an adventure.
Many.... This is a sentimental journey.
I have 99 audiobooks in my library. This is one of the best.
"An unexpected joy to read"
I found the narration perfect for the subject matter, and loved both characters. The slow, contemplative style was relaxing and easy to lose oneself in.I was left feeling emotionally drained when I'd finished it, and not ready to jump into my next book. It's a story that gives one a lot to think about, both whilst reading and long afterwards.
This isn't a novel filled with moments of great action, adventure or suspense. It's a story of inner thoughts and regrets, but it's also certainly not without hope and optimism. The most memorable parts of the novel for me are the most emotional, and there are plenty of those. Both Arthur and Kel meeting their fathers. Yolanda's life mirroring that of Charlene, the pregnant, college dropout. Kel's placing of the obituary which Arthur will most assuredly read. This scene wasn't overly long or descriptive, but still leaves a sense of loss and sadness, that lingers.
All characters were very well voiced but I prefered Arthur Opp/Yolanda, not because the narration was any better, but as I felt a greater compassion and connection to them.
I was sorry when the book finished, as the end of the novel was just the beginning of the story, I could have spent many more hours enjoying the company of Arthur, Yolanda and Kel. I will definitely listen to this again in the near future.
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