From best-selling author Meg Wolitzer a dazzling, panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships.
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age 15 is not always enough to propel someone through life at age 30; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful - true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.
©2013 Megan Wolitzer (P)2013 Penguin Audio
Here was my experience of The Interestings.
1. I google "best books of 2013"
2. I click the Barnes and Noble link, and then click on something called "The Interestings"
3. I read "She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides" - ooh! that's me completely sold!
4. Initial excitement wanes quickly. I'm thinking "This is as literary as Bridget Jones' Diary" and then I just get more and more annoyed with the book and the characters. It reads more to me like an average Young Adult novel featuring teenagers who are smug enough and annoying enough to call themselves "The Interestings" (even if tongue-in-cheek).
5. Maybe a third of the way and finally start to get over the fact that Meg Wolitzer is not in the same league as Franzen or Euginedes by a long shot. I try not to let expectation be the sole destroyer of this book. I try to appreciate it on it's own terms but I'm still annoyed with a few things. Even if the way-overhyped quotes in best-of-the-year lists don't ruin it by high expectation alone, the title doesn't do it any favours either. They're not that interesting! And someone needs to tell Wolitzer about "show don't tell". She keeps *telling* us how funny Jules is yet she never made me laugh once.
I think the cruel truth here is that Wolitzer is a lot less interesting and funny than she thinks she is, which is just another bullet this book shoots itself in the foot with.
Despite all of the above, I didn't hate it - I enjoyed a lot of it but if it had a different title, and I stumbled across it in less magnanimous context, I might have enjoyed it a hell of a lot more.
It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I did it was totally engrossing. If you were to describe the plot of The Interstings to someone it wouldn't sound like that good of a book, but once you get past the first few chapters you find yourself feeling really invested in the lives of each character who each had their own distinct voice and personality.
I love this book, it was really well written and the voice actor was really talented.
Made it a little less contrived, shorter, less whiny. Made Jules more appealing even in her non-splashiness. Made Ethan / Jules attraction more believable, have more realness. Less telling more showing overall.
The narrator is versatile and was consistent in creating and differentiating characters. However, I would have heard them differently in my head. Too often, rather than getting into the character, I kept thinking-- oh, this is how the narrator thinks a teenager sounds.. or an adult ultrasound technician, or ..etc. And I generally disagreed. But hey, I couldn't do what she does.
oh, there were too many. But almost all were all needed to make the milky plot go on. It just went on an on -- and everything so contrived.
After a while it felt like walking in a minefield of details. Each one meant to set off later in the book. And, every single one of them did. A 1-line review of the interestings: a lifetime of artsy--not artful--whining to realize that it's all OK after all, even when it's not.
Yes, if you enjoy a well-written character study.
I'm honestly not a huge fan of character studies, but Meg Wolitzer is such a fantastic writer that the characters really came alive for me. I enjoyed the wry humor as well.
Yes, although as many other reviewers mentioned, she spoke too fast and was a tad inconsistent during the first half of the book. She seemed to settle in to the characters by the second half. I loved her Ethan and Dennis voices.
The Interestings is a wonderful book. I fell in love with the characters and miss them terribly now that I have finished the story. I found myself constantly checking my chapter number, fearful of how close to the end I was getting. You meet a set of 5 teenagers the day they all meet at a summer camp and follow their lives all the way into adulthood. They are good but flawed people - just like most people in the real world.
My only complaint is the narrator. I have listened to hundreds of audio books, and this is the first one for which I had to slow down the narration speed in order to keep up. Even at a slower speed, the voices aren't distorted and I wasn't at all distracted by the pace. Do buy this book. It's absolutely enchanting.
This book started off a bit annoying & not very interesting. However, the character development is great. I really enjoyed the complex relationships built, and the way it circled back. Towards the end, you really knew the dynamics & personalities - and I was bummed it was over. I also enjoyed the reader - she did a great job.
Bildungsroman, relatable, nostalgia
I liked so many things about this story. But mostly I loved the way that the group was followed from idealistic teenage-dom into the first challenges of adulthood into meandering middle age. It was so relatable. We all think we're fantastically interesting until life kicks us around for a while and we realize we are just people who need each other.
Ethan and Julz were by far my favorite. I loved their deep connection that went into a territory beyond romance. They were people who experienced life, but questioned it too.
I thought the narrator did an excellent job! The voices of each of the characters was so distinct and wonderful. i'm sure a movie will be made of this book, but I kind of hate to erase the characters created by the writer and narrator in tandem.
I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.
The way characters and different era's take you on a journey like few other novels match. The Personalitiea are Amazingly Heartwarming
Ethan: Won't spoil the story , when you listen you will see why.
Ethan and Jools at the office.
Life: Things change but remains the same.
Sure, I'd love to hear your story....
This book takes a long time to finish, a long time to care about, and is slow to build. But even after all of that criticism, I must say I liked it. I confess that much of the reason was sharing a common youth and adulthood enables a shortcut for getting to relatable emotions. I remember many of the anxiety provoking things these characters go through so it felt as if we were going through it together.
While I avoided the "artsy" people in high school almost as much as I avoided the stoners and the preppies, it was fun to see how that small group might have turned out had they actually had talent and a leader. The characters are really complete, multi-dimensional, and with a few exceptions, not stereotypes. My only real criticism was the rather thrown together ending that you knew had to come. But, nostalgia is fun, so if you're over fifty, enjoy. Much younger than that and you may want to keep on truckin' (and if you have no idea what the heck that means, you should DEFINITELY find another book!).
The examination of talent and success was insightful and rich through the various character's perspective.
The performance was fine, except for the voice the actor used for Ash, which seemed very much out of character--an irritating "sexy baby" voice.
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