Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday Intro: The Interestings

On a warm night in early July of that long-evaporated year, the Interestings gathered for the very first time. They were only fifteen, sixteen, and they began to call themselves the name with tentative irony. Julie Jacobson, an outsider and possibly even a freak, had been invited in for obscure reasons, and now she sat in a corner on the unswept floor and attempted to position herself so she would appear unobtrusive yet not pathetic, which was a difficult balance. The teepee, designed ingeniously though built cheaply, was airless on nights like this one, when there was no wind to push in through the screens. Julie Jacobson longed to unfold a leg or do the side-to-side motion with her jaw that sometimes set off a gratifying series of tiny percussive sounds inside her skull. But if she called attention to herself in any way now, someone might start to wonder why she was here; and really, she knew, she had no reason to be here at all. It had been miraculous when Ash Wolf had nodded to her earlier in the night at the row of sinks and asked if she wanted to come join her and some of the others later. Some of the others. Even that wording was thrilling.
The Interestings
by Meg Wolitzer

I started listening to The Interestings a few days ago. Meg Wolitzer is a new-to-me author, and the premise of the novel sounds very appealing. Initially I was unsure about the narrator, but got used to her reading after 30 minutes or so. I also picked up a paperback copy and have decided to make this a read/listen combination.

Summary:
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 fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; 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.
What do you think? Would you keep reading?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

51 comments:

  1. I've heard a lot great things about this book. I would keep reading.

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    1. Literary Feline - I picked this up on the recommendation of several bloggers and am very glad I did.

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    2. I'm not familiar with Meg Wolitzer's books either. This one seems like a good one. I'm wondering why the girl is called a freak.

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  2. I really warmed up to that narrator...she gets it. It's a great story. A little wandering, but it sucks you in.

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    1. Sandy - I agree! I wasn't so sure for the first half hour or so, but then her voice sort of clicked with the story for me.

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  3. Oh my gosh - I LOVED this book! That being said, I didn't love the first section while they were at camp…keep going for sure!

    Here's Mine: http://www.sarahsbookshelves.com/fiction/first-chapter-first-paragraph-tuesday-intros-divorce-papers-susan-rieger/

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    1. Sarah - I'm go glad to hear you loved it. I even liked the camp section, so have high hopes for the rest.

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  4. I think I would keep reading, yes- curious to know more about Julie, you can already kinda feel for her just from that paragraph- and curious to know about the others too.

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    1. Greg - The characters are really fascinating...and I love seeing their lives unfold!

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  5. Love the intro/teaser. I would pick it up!

    Here is my intro/teaser post!

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    1. Gautami - It's really good so far!

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  6. I have read several books by this author, and thoroughly enjoyed this one. Some of the characters were unlikeable, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying a book if there are others I can root for.

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I received an ARC of one of her earlier novels, but never got around to reading it. Think that was a mistake now...

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  7. I enjoyed The Interestings SO much more than The Uncoupling. It's a little long, but I liked the characters quite a bit so I didn't mind spending so much time with them. I listened and read, as well.

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    1. Ti - The characters are just so fascinate and, well, interesting! Really like this so far.

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  8. This sounds like a good one for audio. I'll give it a try and will stick with it, with hopes that the the reader wins me over. :)

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    1. Les - The reader seemed to be reading too fast and her voice was all wrong. I didn't think I was going to get into it, but suddenly it just clicked.

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  9. I have a copy of this one sitting patiently on the shelf. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Catherine - I think this is going to be a winner!

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  10. Excellent teaser! I'd keep reading.

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    1. Yvonne - I really like this so far!

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  11. I was curious about this one, but not that excited. That intro really hooked me though! The phrase "tentative irony" is just perfect for teens!

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    1. Melissa - Isn't that a great phrase? I really get these people so far and am enjoying the novel.

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  12. The opening paragraph didn't grab me but the book description did. I believe I'd need to read more before deciding whether to read it all or not. But, I do hope you are enjoying it.

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    1. Margot - I'm about the same era as these characters... so far I really like it!

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  13. I must be in a bad mood...everything is striking me as off. The title and the name of the group sounds very Breakfast Clubish to me and I guess I'm not in the mood for teenage pretentions. Although maybe I'm misreading it.

    Hope it is good!

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    1. JaneGS - I suppose the early camp scenes could be reminiscent of The Breakfast Club. I'm up to their early 20's now ;-)

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    1. Audrey - Loving this book so far.

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  15. I'd keep reading, in fact, I meant to pick this one up months ago! enjoy and thanks for joining in this week Joanne.

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    1. Diane - I think you'd like this book.

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  16. I'm mixed on this one. The opening grabbed me, but then the summary let me go! But I've heard good things about the author and I've been wanted to try her, so maybe this is a good one to start with. Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. Kim - Maybe start with a different Wolitzer novel... one where the summary interests you.

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  17. I've read The Interestings, and I liked it, but I think I enjoyed the camp part the most. I never went to sleepaway camp, and I think I was a little bit jealous! The novel grew on me after I was done though.

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    1. Rachel - I liked the camp portion, too.

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  18. JoAnn, I loved this book. I had the opportunity to hear Meg Wolitzer speak and she was so smart and very funny. One of my favorite books in the last couple of years.

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    1. Sunday - I'm liking this book more with every page turned! Lucky you to hear Wolitzer speak.

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  19. sounds . . . interesting :) I'd have to read a bit more before deciding. Enjoy your book and thanks for stopping by today. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

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  20. I've had this author on my interest list for quite awhile and have yet to try anything. She seems to be on a roll with well-received and INTERESTING stories.

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    1. Care - She sure does. I think you'd like this one!

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  21. I read Wolitzer for the first time earlier this year, and I fell in love with The Wife. Now I have The Uncoupling and The Ten Year Nap on my TBR.

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    1. Andi - I remember having The Ten Year Nap on my wish list a few years ago, but never getting my hands on a copy. I'll probably look for it with renewed interest now!

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  22. I've read this one. Can't remember if I finished it. Hope you like it. Here's Mine

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  23. I hope so. I have it sitting on my TBR shelf.

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  24. I saw this book in the book sale, picked it up but later put it down. It's just because I've so many TBR already and this one looks quite thick, albeit very colourful. After reading your post now I have a little regret I didn't buy it. Interesting that often Americans measure the passing of time in their lives with the presidents when they were teenagers. ;)

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    1. Arti - Since we're traveling this week, I haven't had much time to read or listen to the book. Can't wait to get back to it though!

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  25. This sounds really good! I can totally identify with the main character, not only because we seem to share a nickname, but also because I think everyone has tried to fit into a group at some point! I also really like the title, it is very different! I'd definitely keep reading! Thanks for sharing :) I hope you enjoy it!
    My Intro
    Juli @ Universe in Words

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    1. Juli - Thanks for visiting. I'm just loving this book... easily one of my favorites of the year so far!

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  26. The author drew me in immediately. I want to know more about the main character and why she's an outsider.

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    1. Margot - I am about the same vintage as these characters and that makes the book even more enjoyable... loving all the references to 70's and 80's culture!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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