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)
Audible editor and data evangelist. Lover of fiction, classics, celebrity memoirs, and quirky teen novels.
The multi-cast narration was spectacular, bringing the complex characters to life in all their flawed glory.
I was immediately drawn to Arthur Opp. He's loveable in his tragic loneliness and I found myself rooting for him to open up and celebrating his tiny steps forward.
I've listened to Kirby Heyborne in 'Gone Girl', and his performance in Heft was equally gripping. This was my first listen from Keith Szarabajka and he's now on my radar.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
Why should you listen to a book about an agoraphobic, morbidly obese former professor, his former student, and her son? Because Liz Moore excels at storytelling in Heft and she can make you care about all of these characters in a way that doesn't often happen in fiction, especially when the characters have all made some questionable choices. In Heft, Liz Moore writes of several lonely, misfit characters in an extraordinary way. She is able to tell the stories of Arthur Opp, a morbidly obese, agoraphobic, former professor, his former student Charlene Turner, and her son Kel Keller in simple, straightforward, yet beautiful writing.
Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds, sits on his couch and watches his home fill up with the detritus of his life. After September 11, he realized that he had no one to care about (or to care about him), so he isolates himself in his house and with his weight. He never leaves his house, orders everything he needs, but is clearly cognizant of his situation. His only contact has been letters from a former student, Charlene Turner. He hasn't seen her in twenty years, but one day receives a letter asking Arthur to provide some much-needed guidance to her son, Kel Keller. This letter provides the impetus for Arthur to hire a cleaning lady, Yolanda, who is a very interesting character in her own right. Keith Szarabajka does an amazing narration for Arthur. This is definitely a case where the audio makes the book an even better reading experience than print.
Every one of these characters is lonely in their own way, and their interactions and intersections may (or may not) change that, but Moore doesn't write their stories in predictable ways. She reveals the truth behind the facades that Arthur and Kel have chosen; it would be so easy to write all of these characters as caricatures, but Moore never does that.
"I considered the fact that men who come to excavate my house upon receiving complaints from the neighbors will find a fat old corpse who has no relations and nothing but a pile of papers to tell them this was a human being and this was a man with a story to tell."
Heft is a masterfully told story.
This is the kind of book that grabs you from the beginning and then keeps you holding on because the characters are so lovingly revealed and exposed to you. It's a story about vulnerability, love and self-discovery for the two main characters, who are on converging paths.
The ending was a little abrupt for me, but I recognize how it could be satisfying for others, as anything more could be considered redundant. The author had already made her point that love and family can come from unexpected places. But, the characters were so well written, that I wanted to read more and see how things unfolded once they did meet.
Both narrators were great and really captured their characters' voices. I especially felt the weariness in Arthur's voice, with it's gravely deepness.
It's not exactly a light read, but it's time well spent.
A wonderfully told story I didn't want to end. Perfect charcter development, and story telling ability from this author. I will definitely be watching for any future books from Liz Moore. A book I will be talking and thinking about for some time.
The characters were really fleshed out and real, but so melancholy. So many missed opportunities for each of them. They could have changed each other's lives but didn't have the courage.
I was interested enough in what was going to happen next that I was drawn back to listen when I had other things to do. But I wished someone got their happiness in the end.
The audio version and performance by two actors was amazing. You feel like you are hearing the voice of the characters. As the story drifts and switches from Author to Kel, the voices become familiar. Almost like visiting two friends!
The most memorable part was the relationship and the feelings you develop for both characters. You feel sorry for Author who finds comfort in loneliness. But he also hates loneliness. You feel sorry for Kel who may be doomed to repeat the mistakes of his mother. But Kel has so much potential with the right guidance that mom could not provide.
I'm not sure about a tag line that is catchy. For me, I would develop a tagline centred on themes of loneliness that we can relate to, and a character who can't find his way. Basically two people who are drawn together but do not know how much they need each other.
This book is an excellent read. I recommend this book highly. Like other reviewers have pointed out, however, the ending is unpredictable and abrupt. See for yourself!
The publisher's description of the story did little to inspire me to read this book, I picked it up on sale & was blown away.
Arthur is on first meeting, not terribly likeable. I could pity him, but there is a sense of dishonesty because he is dishonest. He doesn't like who he is & is unwilling to let others know what his life is, to the point of putting on a shirt & tie to answer the door to the grocery delivery man so he can pretend he has been working all day, while in reality he is housebound, completely alone & does little more than eat and watch daytime television.
We begin to see through him though & what follows is a deeply moving story of loneliness.
Kel, the popular athletic teenager is equally lonely & his story is heartbreaking from the beginning as he does his best to care for his alcoholic mother without any outside support.
The two stories are told in parallel until their connection becomes apparent.
Some audio books I find I can become involved in doing something else while listening. In the case of this book I didn't want to. I found I quickly became emotionally invested in the stories of the two main characters (and the other characters also).
My only regret is that I didn't pick this book up earlier. It is absolutely a wonderful read.
The narration is spot on.
My reviews are always pending.
For the first time in a long time I have to agree with other reviewers that Heft is a great read. It's for mature adults telling the young folks how they came to their age. If you stick with the story, you will understand the two main characters. The first character is a heavy set man in his late 50's that hasn't gone out of his house in a long time due to his weight. He finds company at taking in a former house keeper, who is pregnant. The second character is a high school senior who exceeds in baseball, but is stranded after the death of his mother. He is trying to look for his biological father.
It shouldn't take the reader too long that the two are related to each other, living parallel lives, but there is an exception to the story. I don't want to spoil the ending, but there is no bed of roses at the end.
I really enjoyed Liz Moore and her character development. It's really slow and fast at the same time, like real life. She doesn't miss a beat like other authors does by limiting their characters by cliff noting their identity. The book has this emotional weight between the pauses. In a way, you are rooting for a happy ending, just because it's a depressing story, but many hard earn life are depressing and through their struggles, they are uplifted.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
For me, the term “heft” implies recognizing weight because of trying to lift something, whereas “weight” carries the connotation of pressing down. For a major portion of this story, I just felt the weight – of depression, of inertia, of secrets and lies, and of time wasted letting opportunities pass by, especially waiting for rescue to come from outside rather than from within. It would be easy to allow the weighty stories of Arthur and Kel to become depressing, and indeed I became frustrated with both of them for their self-destructive behaviors, particularly when they told trivial and unnecessary untruths that kept them painted into their corners, isolated from those trying to make contact. I assumed from the story summary that Arthur’s and Kel’s stories would converge at some point, but it was a very long journey before the corner was turned, and some reviewers were apparently unhappy with the ending. I’m ok with it though, because the resolution was where I finally sensed the lift of “Heft”. It was worth working through the hard times to get there, for the characters and for me.
A word about the narration: I felt that the readers might have been instructed to speak way too slowly. Arthur’s voice begins the story, and fairly quickly I felt that the very slow pace of the reading was lulling me into the feeling of sinking to the bottom of the ocean. So I did something I’ve never done before – I bumped up the speed of my player. I intended to only speed up for Arthur, but when Kel started, he also spoke very slowly, so I speeded him up too. It worked. While clearly fast paced, both readers remained expressive without chipmunk voices. Perhaps a slow reading was intended to convey the depression of their lives, but the author’s words did that sufficiently without artifice. Had to downgrade the performance because of this, which is too bad, because Arthur’s voice in particular was very good and would have been excellent if read at a normal pace.
I LOVE to listen to audiobooks - the Audible ap is by far the best thing that's ever happend to my iPhone.
I selected is book using the feature that shows what other people that bought a certain book were also buying. I'm glad I did!
The thing that struck me about this book - is the attention to descriptive detail! Arthur is homebound, so his imagination fuels him... the way Liz Moore describes everything - the smells, the appearance of things... She even gives you and inside look at Arthur and his inner conversations. Like, when he imagines how a friendship will be, or who a person is based on their photo. He is a lonely man - but his own imagination is a true companion.
Kel is a great teen character - typical teen qualities, but the vulnerability of a child who has a messed up family.
You won't be disappointed with this selection. The narration is fabulous, the story is engaging!
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