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)
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 read and listen to books. I drink tea. I sleep like a cat and wished I lived in Hawaii.
I found myself wanting to exercise or drive in the car just so I could keep listening. I loved the characters that Moore created. They were flawed and real and raw. The story was about loneliness and the need for human connection. While I enjoyed listening to both narrators, I was especially drawn to Arthur's character and his parts of the story. Szarabajka did a superb job of speaking Arthur's part. I could listen to that voice for days and days. Also, I loved the character of Yolanda, she was full of personality and charm. My only complaint was the ending. I didn't see the book coming to that resolution and it caught me completely off guard.
I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.
Like "Me before you" this book is about ilness and lonelyness. In "Me before you" there is one storyline which makes you either love or hate it. "Heft" !contains one storyline about a 17-year old guy taking care of his mom suffering from Lupus. His escape is baseball. The other story is about the big guy Arthur too big to wish to get out of his house: Then their stories come together. The narration is as great as "The help" the two narrators does an beyond amazing job. The narrators help you navigate between the two stories.
I would either create another chapter or a second book.
Yolanda meets Arthur
"You before me" came in the middel of this, would have done it in one setting otherwise.
If you like "The fault in our stars"
" The help"
" Me before you" you will love this.
AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!
i have read over 100 books and this fits easily in the top ten.
buddy because it is the same type of story. a character study with heartwarming moments.
the scene near the end where yolanda was ordering arthur around to clean this and that. i loved yolanda!
it made me smile. i was interested enough that since i began the book friday i was interested in what was going to happen enough to think often about it when i could not be reading the book.
the reader was great. i loved the way yolanda was portrayed. she could have been a taker taking advantage of arthur but she came across as very straight forward.
I loved this book. I enjoyed listening to Arthur as much as I enjoyed listening to Kell and usually I tend to like 1 characters POV more than another. Both of these guys are so heartbroken but also so desperately hopeful that you cant help but have hope for them.
As always Kirby Heyborn was great and i thought Keith Szarabajka was such a wonderful match for the character of Arthur.
So, i don't write many reviews although I am always listening to books. I think my new years resolution is to start writing reviews here because I rely heavily on my fellow Audible members for recommendations. That said, listen to this book. well worth a credit!
I enjoy literary fiction with character depth and psychological exploration. I am in my 50s, work in psychology, and love the outdoors.
What I loved best about Heft was that I felt like I was living the main character's life. The author was able to write the book in a manner that allowed me to feel that I was on the inside of his mind, understanding his motives and choices. He was such an interesting, brilliant, gentle man while at the same time he was trapped within himself and within his home.
I suppose that Heft reminded me of Anne Tyler novels, like "Accidental Tourist" perhaps. Unbelievable character development. The reader gets to live the life of another.
The reading of Heft was brilliant. The story telling with two different voices allowed me to more fully live the lives of the two main characters whose ages were vastly separated.
This book did not make me laugh or cry but did make me feel deeply the importance of development of friendships and the value of creating one's own family of friends as opposed to a birth family. This book allowed me to observe the protagonist's great ability to find love and acceptance of himself and of others.
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.
Heft gets off to a promising start. Arthur Opp, an obese shut-in, begins to explain to us how he got so lonely that his only remaining relationship is with binge eating. That was me about 30 years ago, watching my waist line grow proportionally to my heartbreak after the bad end to an important relationship. So I was very interested in seeing how author Liz Moore would develop Arthur's character relative to my own experience.
Unfortunately, Arthur's narration is soon supplanted by that of a Westchester County high school boy, and Heft turns into a YA novel about dealing with an alcoholic mother, snobby schoolmates, and being an accomplished and popular multi-sport athlete. (Sound of loud record scratch!) Wait -- "dealing" with being a popular high school athlete? Yes. OK, Kel's single mother is a major problem, but everyone else around him loves him and supports him through that struggle, even when he acts out. What's the story here?
The narrative eventually shifts back to Arthur as he takes baby steps to address his situation, thanks in large part to the arrival of a perky pregnant teenage housekeeper, as well as a letter from his past. But his segments grow shorter as Kel's drone on and on. This is major missed opportunity number one, abandoning Arthur. Number two, there is the opportunity for a significant study of fatherhood that is never explored to the same depth as, say, what Arthur is eating or why Kel wants to pursue baseball instead of college.
Which leads to major missed opportunity number three. Moore does give us a couple of detailed listings of Arthur's binge meals, but she never really develops a compelling metaphor. Sure, he eats because he's lonely, but this is literature, please take it a little past the obvious. Or, being a former English teacher who has an enduring crush on one of his students, maybe expand on the brief mentions of literary works that the student got so wrong and how that affected Arthur's affection for her.
Which brings me to this: Writing reviews for Audible, I feel bad about having to recommend not listening to a book. I know, I have to just be honest, but still... So I will close this review by heartily recommending The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, which is also about a lonely man who has given up on life and love only to find it through an unlikely turn of events -- events similar to those in Heft. More than anything else, Zevin sticks with her protagonist, as Moore should have done with Arthur Opp, and makes the most of her central metaphor, the love of books.
I have to add a note about the narration. Both narrators (one doing Arthur, one doing Kel) are perfectly fine. But the book is written with frequent breaks, sometimes after one- or two-sentence paragraphs. There is a pause of a couple or three seconds at every break. This totally disrupts the flow of the narrative, annoyingly. There isn't even the need for these breaks, as the next paragraph often is a direct continuation of the preceding one. Bad choice, very bad choice, by both author and the director of the audio version.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
Heft is told in two voices... Arthur, a 550 pound man living in Brooklyn and Kel an 18 year old from Yonkers. They are both vulnerable, sensitive, insecure, guilt ridden and damaged by life. They are fully developed, imperfect but appealing characters. They are tied together only by a quirky friendship between Kel's mother and Arthur years earlier and her desire for them to meet. Doesn't sound like a five star read... but I lived inside their thoughts and life for 11 hours and 44 minutes and have to say I didn't want it to end. Loneliness, loss, death, abandonment, "almost," disapproval, hope... its not a light read, nor oppressive. The role of fathers and the ways one can be fatherless, is a beautiful thread woven though the book. If you need action, a fast moving plot, mystery or adventure... this isn't it. The only book I can think of that is similar "The Unlikely Pilgrimage Harold Fry" is actually very different. Kel occasionally swears, smokes marijuana and engages in sex at a teen drinking party... probably a PG-13 read.
This is definitely one of my favorites. The performance was top notch and the writing...oh so perfect.. I loved all the characters and will miss them very much. They became my friends.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written character study. The isolation and loneliness of the three main characters is heartbreaking but not really depressing. There is a hopefulness throughout which is very uplifting. I rarely write reviews but this audiobook is worth recommending and certainly worth a credit.
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