Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Riverhead Books.
Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my
favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to
your wish list.
Don't be shocked, but I haven't read Meg Wolitzer's The Ten-Year Nap. However, the premise of her just-released novel, The Interestings, caught my attention, and I'm absolutely hooked.
Here's the publisher's 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.I'm only about a fifth of the way through The Interestings, but I didn't want to wait before I featured the novel for Imprint Friday because it's arguably the book of the week. I've been seen positive reviews from major media sites as well as from bloggers. I've noticed an ongoing Twitter discussion (use hashtag #TheInterestings) among the bookish crowd, and Riverhead has had some events to celebrate its publication. The time to tell you about Meg Wolitzer's new novel is right now.
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
Here's what I know about the book and my initial reactions. The story is centered around Jules Jacobson. We meet her on the very night she's been included in the group of the coolest campers at Spirit-in-the-Woods, and we quickly see her decades later after she's become a working wife and mother. Thus, as you can guess, the plot does not unfold in a strictly linear way; it moves smoothly from the deep past to the present to the middle past and back again.
At this point, I'd describe The Interestings as a character study or maybe, more accurately, a generation or era study. Wolitzer interjects many defining cultural references—from books, drugs, and recipes to the first unexplained cases of AIDS—perfectly capturing the America in which Jules came of age. I'm especially curious about this aspect of the novel, because I know my own perspective must be fundamentally different from Jules's. After all, in 1974 she was at summer camp marveling at her first real kiss, whereas I was working, living on my own, and getting ready for my last year of college.
I haven't yet made up my mind about which of the main characters I like or trust, but nonetheless, I'm fully invested in their lives and want to know more. What made Jules stop perusing acting? Did Ash ever become famous or is she riding on the coattails of Ethan? In addition, I've noticed hints of secrets to be revealed and perhaps a less-savory aspect of the bond among the group.
Sometimes a book is worth talking about before you've finished it. I predict that Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings will end up on almost everyone's best of 2013 lists. And I'm saying that after having read only about 100 pages.
Riverhead Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, visit the Riverhead website. While there, explore their terrific book list, check out authors in the news, and view some fun videos. Stay in the know by following them on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.
Buy The Interstings at an indie or at a bookstore near you. (Link leads to an affiliate program.)
Published by Penguin USA / Riverhead, 2013
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