The Interestings

( 105 )

Overview

?Remarkable . . . With this book [Wolitzer] has surpassed herself.??The New York Times Book Review

"A victory . . . The Interestings secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation. . . . She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's."?Entertainment Weekly (A)

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The Interestings

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Overview

“Remarkable . . . With this book [Wolitzer] has surpassed herself.”—The New York Times Book Review

"A victory . . . The Interestings secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation. . . . She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's."—Entertainment Weekly (A)

The New York Times–bestselling novel by Meg Wolitzer that has been called "genius" (The Chicago Tribune), “wonderful” (Vanity Fair), "ambitious" (San Francisco Chronicle), and a “page-turner” (Cosmopolitan), which The New York Times Book Review says is "among the ranks of books like Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot."

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.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Remarkable . . . [The Interestings’s] inclusive vision and generous sweep place it among the ranks of books like Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot. The Interestings is warm, all-American, and acutely perceptive about the feelings and motivations of its characters, male and female, young and old, gay and straight; but it’s also stealthily, unassumingly, and undeniably a novel of ideas. . . . With this book [Wolitzer] has surpassed herself.”—The New York Times Book Review

"A victory . . . The Interestings secures Wolitzer's place among the best novelists of her generation. . . . She's every bit as literary as Franzen or Eugenides. But the very human moments in her work hit you harder than the big ideas. This isn't women's fiction. It's everyone's."—Entertainment Weekly (A)

"The big questions asked by The Interestings are about what happened to the world (when, Jules wonders, did 'analyst' stop denoting Freud and start referring to finance?) and what happened to all that budding teenage talent. Might every privileged schoolchild have a bright future in dance or theater or glass blowing? Ms. Wolitzer hasn’t got the answers, but she does have her characters mannerisms and attitudes down cold."—The New York Times

"I don't want to insult Meg Wolitzer by calling her sprawling, engrossing new novel, The Interestings, her most ambitious, because throughout her 30-year career of turning out well-observed, often very funny books at a steady pace, I have no doubt she has always been ambitious. . . . But "The Interestings" is exactly the kind of book that literary sorts who talk about ambitious works . . . are talking about. . . . Wolitzer is almost crushingly insightful; she doesn't just mine the contemporary mind, she seems to invade it."—San Francisco Chronicle

"A sprawling, marvelously inventive novel . . . ambitious and enormously entertaining."—The Washington Post

"A supremely engrossing, deeply knowing, genius-level enterprise . . . The novel is thick and thickly populated. And yet Wolitzer is brilliant at keeping the reader close by her side as she takes her story back and forth across time, in and out of multiple lives, and into the tangle of countless continuing, sometimes compromising, conversations."—Chicago Tribune

“Masterful, sweeping . . . Her clear gaze captures the intricacies of lasting friendship, enduring love, marital sacrifice, bitter squabbles, family secrets, parental angst and deep loss. Though the story hops back and forth in time, it is rarely confusing, frequently funny and always engaging. . . . A story that feels real and true and more than fulfills the promise of the title. It is interesting, yes, but also moving, compelling, fascinating, and rewarding.”—Miami Herald

“Wolitzer has produced a novel that is big by at least a couple of clear measures—it’s nearly 500 pages long, and it covers a lot of time and drama in the lives of a small circle of friends. . . . It’s a small world in which these characters want to live large, and Wolitzer is wonderful at conveying that through the point of view of someone who doesn’t even see it, all the while shading in the stuff that lives, big and small, are made of.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“It’s a ritual of childhood—that solemn vow never to lose touch, no matter what. And for six artsy teenagers whose lives unfold in Wolitzer’s big-hearted, ambitious new novel, the vow holds for almost four decades.”—People

"Readers may also enjoy comparing The Interestings with Claire Messud's The Emperor's Children . . . In probing the unpredictable relationship between early promise and success and the more dependable one between self-acceptance and happiness, Wolitzer's novel is not just a big book but a shrewd one."—Christian Science Monitor

"[The Interestings] soars, primarily because Wolitzer insists on taking our teenage selves seriously and, rather than coldly satirizing them, comes at them with warm humor and adult wisdom."—Elle

"In Meg Wolitzer's lovely, wise The Interestings, Julie Jacobson begins the summer of '74 as an outsider at arts camp until she is accepted into a clique of teenagers with whom she forms a lifelong bond. Through well-tuned drama and compassionate humor, Wolitzer chronicles the living organism that is friendship, and arcs it over the cours of more than thirty years."—O, the Oprah Magazine

"Wonderful."—Vanity Fair

"Juicy, perceptive and vividly written."—NPR.org

"A sprawling, ambitious and often wistful novel."—USA Today

"What becomes a legend most? or rather, who? Those with innate ability? Those blessed with enough beauty or money to indulge any creative whim? Or just those who want it the most? In The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer's quarry is ambition: what it means to have it, how to use it, how it's lost."—Time

"Best-selling novelist Meg Wolitzer specializes in witty, knowing takes on contemporary marriage, divorce, and relationships. Her ninth novel, The Interestings, is smart, nuanced, and fun to read, in part because of the effervescent evocation of New York City from Watergate to today, in part because of the idiosyncratic authenticity of her characters."—The Daily Beast

"You’ll want to be friends with these characters long after you put down the book.”—Marie Claire

"A page-turner."—Cosmopolitan

“[A] big, juicy novel . . . Wolitzer’s finger is unerringly on the pulse of our social culture."—Readers Digest

"Meg Wolitzer kicks off her buzzy tenth novel in 1974 at a summer camp for artsy kids, where a tight-knit group of campers is plotting world domination. The result is a Franzen-like treatise on talent, fate, friendship, and the limits of all three."—V Magazine

“Breathtaking in its scope and a remarkably fun page-turner . . . “[Wolitzer's] social commentary on art, money and fame should have her compared to Tom Wolfe, but her work is much larger than that.”—Matchbook

“[The Interestings is] so approachable one can almost miss the excellence and precision of its prose. . . . Ultimately The Interestings is absorbing and immensely likeable.”—Nylon

"Like Virginia Woolf in The Waves, Meg Wolitzer gives us the full picture here, charting her characters' lives from the self-dramatizing of adolescence, through the resignation of middle age, to the attainment of a wisdom that holds all the intensities of life in a single, sustained chord, much like this book itself. The wit, intelligence, and deep feeling of Wolitzer's writing are extraordinary and The Interestings brings her achievement, already so steadfast and remarkable, to an even higher level."—Jeffrey Eugenides

"Wolitzer follows a group of friends from adolescence at an artsy summer camp in 1974 through adulthood and into late-middle age as their lives alternately intersect, diverge and reconnect. . . . Ambitious and involving, capturing the zeitgeist of the liberal intelligentsia of the era."—Kirkus (starred)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594632341
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 15,344
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Wolitzer

Meg Wolitzer’s previous novels include The Wife, The Position, The Ten-Year Nap, and The Uncoupling. She lives in New York City.

Biography

Meg Wolitzer grew up around books. Her mother, Hilma Wolitzer, published two novels while Meg was still in school, and weekly trips to the library were a ritual the entire family looked forward to. Not surprisingly, Meg served as editor for her junior high and high school literary magazines. She graduated from Brown University in 1981. One year later, she published her debut novel, Sleepwalking, the story of three college girls bonded by an unhealthy fascination with suicidal women poets. It marked the beginning of a successful writing career that shows no sign of slacking.

Over the years, Wolitzer has proven herself a deft chronicler of intense, unconventional relationships, especially among women. She has explored with wit and sensitivity the dynamics of fractured families (This Is Your Life, The Position); the devastating effects of death (Surrender, Dorothy), the challenges of friendship (Friends for Life), and the prospective minefield of gender, identity, and dashed expectations (Hidden Pictures, The Wife, The Ten-Year Nap).

In addition to her bestselling novels, Wolitzer has written a number of screenplays. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize, and she has also taught writing at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and at Skidmore College.

Good To Know

In our exclusive interview, Wolitzer shared some fun and fascinating facts about herself:

"First of all, I am obsessed with playing Scrabble. It relaxes me between fits of writing, and I play online, in a bizarro world of anonymous, competitive players. It's my version of smoking or drinking -- a guilty pleasure. The thing is, I love words, anagrams, wordplay, cryptic crossword puzzles, and anything to do with the language."

"I also love children's books, and feel a great deal of nostalgia for some of them from my own childhood (Harriet the Spy and The Phantom Tollbooth among others) as well as from my children's current lives. I have an idea for a kids' book that I might do someday, though right now my writing schedule is full up."

"Humor is very important to me in life and work. I take pleasure from laughing at movies, and crying at books, and sometimes vice versa. I also have recently learned that I like performing. I think that writers shouldn't get up at a reading and give a dull, chant-like reading from their book. They should perform; they should do what they need to do to keep readers really listening. I've lately had the opportunity to do some performing on public radio, as well as singing with a singer I admire, Suzzy Roche, formerly of the Roches, a great group that started in 1979. Being onstage provides a dose of gratification that most writers never get to experience."

"But mostly, writing a powerful novel -- whether funny or serious, or of course both -- is my primary goal. When I hear that readers have been affected by something I've written, it's a relief. I finally have come to no longer fear that I'm going to have to go to law school someday...."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 28, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brown University, 1981
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 105 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(26)

3 Star

(26)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(14)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 105 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 21, 2013

    Sorry, but once again the hype is much more than the reality wit

    Sorry, but once again the hype is much more than the reality with this one. We lived the life Meg Wolitzer is TRYING to describe, coming to NYC in 1973, joining the arts and business worlds, having the dreams of the young in NY and trying many things. But NEVER did we speak like the dialogue in this book, or have friends like these. This is nonsense, poorly written, and certainly NOT the way we lived. I was reading portions to my wife, and all she did was laugh and say JUNK! I agree. Sadly, I got a refund and removed the book from my eBook library. Don't waste your time on this trivial nonsense, it's not based on real life at all. We had, and continue to have , a MUCH MORE INTERESTING LIFE than the tritely characterized people in this very trite book. Save your hard earned $!!

    14 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2013

    Awful

    Avoid this book unless you like trivia. "We went walking in Central Park. X made a good dinner. We got a nice Christmas card." Come on! Where is the story?? NOT Interestings.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Wonderfully written!

    Wonderfully written!

    5 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2013

    The first section of the book outlines six teenagers who meet at

    The first section of the book outlines six teenagers who meet at a summer camp for the arts. We get to know them and how they become close friends and begin life-long relationships with each other. This portion of the book goes slowly as a long set-up to what comes later. Everything starts to change with a serious, possibly criminal, incident created by one, but affecting all, as they begin adulthood and their relationships become more complex. And love, marriage, careers, failures, successes, etc., continue to develop the relationships of these six. And, of course, not all ends well. The story is interesting, the characters mostly well-developed, the plot moves along without suspense or speed. I will say that some of the story suggests soul-searching and looking back at how our own relationships develop and transition, how much friendship plays roles in our lives. It was good reading, but didn't fit my normal preference for more plot and a faster pace.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Waste of money & time

    Depressing trash. The author is sick to even imagine these unreal characters. I was depressed for a week after reading it.
    If you want to torture someone give them this "gem."

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    It is an OK read

    The name of the book, the cover and the storyline caught my attention. However, by the end of this book I found it to be just "interesting" . The characters were not developed deeply enough for me and some were barely developed at all. Boiled own to the basics, The Interestings is a book of one girl's/woman's struggle, through much of her life, with envy and jealousy.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    Enjoyable

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Sure, it is not the most realistic story in the world, but the dynamics between the friends and internal struggles of the characters are universal. I would definitely recommend this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    So Be

    Beautifullwritty
    Beautifully written story of a group of friends traced from teenage through middle age years- Their individual and shared experiences shape who they become what they value-







    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2014

    If you were born in the 60's this is your life

    I had many experiences that duplicated those in the book and so I guess I kept adding the missing pieces in my imagination, consequently when I came to the end of the book I kept thinking about the characters and wondering how they were doing now. The book was well written and had maybe a few points of repetition, and if I were the editor, I would have taken out about 50 pages, but otherwise I was engaged throughout and would highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013

    Not interesting.

    Clunky and repetitive

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2014

    As the book is a slow read to begin with the characters eventual

    As the book is a slow read to begin with the characters eventually develop
    and move on through their lives. a Summer read.

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  • Posted September 5, 2014

    It was very Interesting!

    Book follows a group from their meeting at an art camp through their lives and how they intertwine. Was indeed, very interesting

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  • Posted August 17, 2014

    Some of the characters I just didn't care to hear their point of

    Some of the characters I just didn't care to hear their point of view and I'd skim through those parts so quickly to get on to the good ones.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2014

    Not so much

    This just wasn't interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2014

    Very Un-Interesting

    I purchased this book with high expectations after seeing it on 3 different "Best of 2013" lists. I was so excited to read it and jumped in....first 50 pages...boring. It's got to get better once the story develops, right? NOPE. I kept reading...200 pages...300 pages...nothing. At that point I thought that I just needed to get to the end and surely I'd be rewarded with a great ending, and a way to salvage 400+ pages of agony. The end was as "blah" as the rest of the story. I have no idea what the criteria are for the "Best of" lists, but this is a stretch no matter the measuring stick.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

    Anonymous

    Long winded story about a bunch of self absorbed people. The main character was insecure and jealous with her every thought and action. Would not recommend. Read it for the hype and was disappointed.

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  • Posted June 2, 2014

    This book was anything but interesting. I found the characters

    This book was anything but interesting. I found the characters to be self indulgent babies that never grow up. I was bored to death but would not give up on it and finally finished it but was not happy that I had. I hoped that the ending would save this book as the last quarter began to get interesting but the ending was flat.
    After all the fine reviews I read before on this book I was sorely disappointed and would not recommend it to anyone .

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  • Posted May 31, 2014

    Worth the read

    Meg Wolitzer does not write beautifully, but her characters were definitely interesting and I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen to them. She is spot on in recreating the conversation and thoughts of teenagers, and the book raises important issues such as why we become friends, how we behave towards our friends, why we marry, why we stay married, how we age, what we do with our dreams and aspirations. Wolitzer writes about all these topics truthfully. I will definitely read more of her books now that I've read this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014

    Sounded like just the book I'd like to read but I only finished

    Sounded like just the book I'd like to read but I only finished it because I  bought it.  The ending was underwhelming and left me forgetting the book in about a minute.

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  • Posted April 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting Story....but a could use some editing

    I enjoyed the writing and the story for about 2/3 of the book. After that it became a bit predictable. Still a fun read.

    I enjoyed Meg's ability to go back and forth between current time and anticipated time.

    Overall an easy and pleasant read.

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