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The Interestings Book Review

interestingsThe Interestings by Meg Wolitzer is a book about life and its endless possibilities.

When the novel begins, a group of six childhood friends are on equal footing; all of them have an artistic talent and the environment to nurture that talent. As we follow the group into adulthood we see those endless possibilities dwindle into a single reality. We see varying degrees of love, money, talent, ambition, and satisfaction and the roles they play in the lives of these six intertwined friends.

Comparing the outcomes of these six fictional lives is a small step away from comparing our own lives to our own peers. This novel, however, can show us that finding the perfect balance to happiness is not always as straightforward as we would like it to be.

Theme

The quote below summarizes this theme of the novel. The funnel however, does not stop after childhood, the funnel continues to narrow and squeeze with every choice we make.

“When you have a child,” [Ash had] recently said to Jules, it’s like right away there’s this grandiose fantasy about who he’ll become. And then time goes on and a fuel appears. And the child gets pushed through t that funnel, and shaped by it, and narrowed a little bit. So now you know he’s not going to be an athlete. and now you know he’s not going to be a painter. Now you know he’s not going to be a linguist. All these difference possibilities fall away.”

Book Cover

The Interestings is in the running for the best book cover. Although not particularly representative of the story, the attention it draws is undeniable.

4 Stars

If you are looking for pure entertainment, this book is not for you. However… if you let this novel plant seeds in your mind, and if you let your wandering thoughts water those seeds, you may find yourself emerged in something much larger and much more rewarding than a novel. 

One more good quote…

“Part of the beauty of love was that you didn’t need to explain it to anyone else. You could refuse to explain. With love, apparently you didn’t necessarily feel the need to explain anything at all.”

A quote about love

“Part of the beauty of love was that you didn’t need to explain it to anyone else. You could refuse to explain. With love, apparently you didn’t necessarily feel the need to explain anything at all.”

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

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This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

Tobias Wolff captures his childhood in a pool of childhood adventures written in quick, smooth prose. 

TobiasWolff_ThisBoysLifeBold Writing

Wolff wastes no time with his writing. He knows exactly where he’s going and jumps directly into the scene. Wolff’s opening sentences widen your eyes and narrow your vision. He jumps time swiftly, skipping weeks, months, even years in single sentences without jarring the reader.

First sentences of chapters: 

  • The sheriff came to the house one night and told the Bolgers that Chuck was about to be charged with statutory rape.
  • Our car boiled over again just after my mother and I crossed the Continental Divide.
  • My father took off for Las Vegas with his girlfriend the day after I arrived in California.
  • When I was alone in the house I went through everyone’s private things.
  • I kept outgrowing my shoes, two pairs in the seventh grade alone.

A Memoir Point of View

The distant, introspective nature of memoirs always strikes me as curious. Wolff writes in the first person, but I felt disconnected to the story, as if Wolff is writing the memoir in order to discard the old memories instead of capture their timelessness. His rebellious youth, disjointed family life, and lack of respect seem like a distant life, even for the reader.

Fear

This Boy’s Life leaves a trail of breadcrumbs that seems certain to lead to destruction. If I didn’t know the main character went on to live a long life filled with writing, I would have guessed the book to end with his death or imprisonment. He was surrounded by dangerous people and cared very little for his well being. At times, I felt shivers go up my spine.

A Memorable Quote

“Like anyone else, she must have wanted different things at the same time. The human heart is a dark forest.” 

3.5 Stars

Although Tobias Wolff is one of my favorite short story authors, I didn’t enjoy his memoir as much. He’s certainly a fantastic writer and his childhood was filled with smirking adventures, but the story did not capture me.

The Outstanding Similes and Metaphors of David Rhodes

Like all great metaphors, all of the following quotes are amplified by the context they are found in. That is why I encourage you to read Driftless by David Rhodes, a novel that rings true with every word.

driftless

The darkness of the room surrounded him like an ocean. 

Like primeval cathedral bells his mother’s voice called…

Your must guard your words like a dragon guarding her cave.

The sun reflected from the clouds in avenues of colored ideas.

He saw his beliefs, things he could not know for certain but still held true, as clearly as pictures drawn on paper.

The color of the [cougar] impressed him…this kind of bright black. It drew all other colors to it, like water to a drain. The animal possessed a darkness even beyond black, with two glowing eyes as yellow as stars.

As the morning rinsed stars out of the night sky…

Gail, in her red coat, and surrounded by a sea of flowers, looked like a cardinal in a spring apple tree. 

Black cougar

creativity

Quotes About Reading from Writers

Searching for a semi-forgotten quote is one of the most tedious tasks I have encountered. Thankfully I’m not easily frustrated today. But while I was searching for that semi-forgotten reading quote, I stumbled upon many new, powerful quotes that I am happy to share with you, so I suppose something even more inspiring came out of that lingering quote (that I still haven’t been able to find so please read my ** at the end and help me out if you can!). Most of these quotes came from 40 Inspiring Quotes About Reading from Writers and a few stranglers from other places. Enjoy! 

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“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates

“You should never read just for “enjoyment.” Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick “hard books.” Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, “I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.” Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of “literature”? That means fiction, too, stupid.” — John Waters

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” — Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) I certainly don’t hold true to this quote but I find it intriguing because I really do carry my book (almost) everywhere I go and I feel that is a true rarity today. books

“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.” — Nora Ephron

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson  This is true for me and is one of the reasons I enjoy my blog so much. Even though I have only been writing book reviews since January, I already enjoy rifling through my archives and remembering what books I’ve already forgotten. 

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” — James Baldwin

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.” ― Jane Smiley  As I am also one of these people, I always leave my book on top of my desk where I can easily look over at it and feel at home no matter where I may be.

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury

A good book has no ending. ― R.D. Cumming

 

**The quote I am searching for is along the lines of… “Some books are meant to be read, enjoyed and tossed aside without thinking too deeply about theme/writing ect.”   Please help me out if you have any ideas!! 

plath

The Words, Stefan Merrill Block

This beautiful paragraph is taken from Stefan Merril Block’s second novel, The Storm at the Door

In the soil of a New Hampshire forest, on a summer day of 2007, the words are no longer words, now only particles of ash. At a Massachusetts pencil factory, on a spring afternoon of 1959, the words are not yet words, only a few inches of charcoal in a rod. At the bottom of a milk crate in a cluttered attic, on a winter morning of 1976, the words fade slowly on yellowing paper. Inside the glow of a Franklin stove, on a July day in 1989, the words curl into one another, embrace one another with their sloping appendages, as they incinerate. Ascending the chimney of Echo Cottage in a plume of white, they could have been anything. Image

“I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.”

One hundred pages into East of Eden, I am absolutely loving it! The writing is spectacular and I love the way the narrator wanders away from the plot to talk about life, society or whatever he wants. I love the mystery of who the narrator is. We know he is connected to the people he is discussing (some are his ancestors) but he is not present in the plot. The story in no way seems rushed yet all I want to do is sit in my reading chair all night and flip pages.

When I finish this 600-page monster (pun intended), I will post a complete book review. Please check back in a week or two! Until then, enjoy page 71 of East of Eden (below) and check out my previous book reviews here!

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. Some you can see, misshapen and horrible, with huge heads or tiny bodies; some are born with no arms, no legs, some with three arms, some with tails or mouths in odd places. They are accidents and no one’s fault, as used to be thought. Once they were considered the visible punishments for concealed sins.
And just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?
Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has no visible thing to compare to others. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that a monster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.

-John Steinbeck, East of Eden p.71

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