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 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.
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I have listened to the book 3 times over the past two years. It is one of my all time favorites. The writing style is superb. I laugh and also feel sad at different times. Oh how life is messy but that's what makes it so magical. As I reflect on Arthur Opp, Yolanda and Kel Keller I feel hope. This is why I come back to Heft again and again.
I enjoyed this book so much that I found reasons to rearrange my tasks sob that I could stay productive and keep listening. I was not prepared for the story to end and wish there were more chapters to the book.
Most interesting were the minor characters. Least interesting was the monotone of the readers.
Please, please, please add more character into the performance. The reading was a drone, with the exception of voicing the minor characters.
Disappointment. There were many loose ends, and the story just seemed to drop off without any kind of real ending.
I never read the print version, but the narrators bring it to life so perfectly I can't imagine reading it myself in print would have done it justice.
Arther Opp, because he has an awkwardness to which I can relate.
The story itself is beautiful and unexpectedly complicated and completely heart-wrenching, but the way the narrators give it depth is...amazing. I found myself counting down until the next time I'd be able to listen to more of the story, and when it was done (both because of the writing and the narration) I found myself wanting SO much more.
Both narrators were excellent but I was disappointed in the story. That may be, however, because it wasn't what I was expecting. I expected the two main characters lives to interact but they're really two parallel stories - related by an important but minor shared character. I enjoyed each story on its own but it felt a little like a set-up for sequel. Again, maybe that was just my misguided idea of what the book was about.
Bottom line is I recommend this book but go into in with an open mind.
I enjoyed this book for the way the work unfolds, the compassion I felt for Arthur, annoyance and then compassion for Cal, and frustration over Cal's mother. Juliana ( pronounced Yolanda), so free of judgement, was my favourite character. The ending was very brief, I wanted more, but now thinking about it, the lingering bit of ambiguity was the right tone
I was a mother and now I'm not. Losing your only child strips you of the title of mother but not the heart of it. It's a type of purgatory.
The narrator did Arthur's voice very well. It was easy to imagine what he looked like. However, he made Charlene sound unlikable. But overall, the narration was the most intriguing part of the book and that's pretty disappointing. The plot just fell completely flat and it's another book that just stops instead if having an ending. I get what the author was trying to do but too many story lines were introduced that just stopped instead of reaching any type of conclusion. When the book was over, I felt like, "What, that's it?" I felt like I'd wasted my time. The ending was just lazy. The only reason I gave it 2 stars is because the story did keep my attention for the most part. But I debated knocking it back to one star.
She could have written an ending. Instead it felt like she just stopped writing. Very dissatisfying book.
I really wanted to like it based on reviews and I'm really sad that the ending was so disappointing. My biggest pet peeve is a story that just stops without wrapping up the plot. The author did the characters a disservice by leaving them just floating out there with no direction. I found the book entertaining while I was listening but it got long winded in parts and I found my mind wandering more and more as I approached the end. And then the ending was so utterly flat and lazy that I felt angry that I spent time listening.
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