12 April 2013

Imprint Friday: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

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.

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
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.

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
ISBN-13: 9781594488399

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Sandy Nawrot 4/12/13, 6:49 AM  

I just started this on audio (AMAZINGLY narrated I'd like to add). I've got that same impression as well. As in...this is going to be GOOD. The writing is whip-smart and clever. The generational references relevant (Jules would have been just a few years older than I). More than all that though is how the author totally has captured that weird but familiar emotion of loving someone yet being twisted over their resounding success, and the feeling that you've never quite fit in.

rhapsodyinbooks 4/12/13, 6:57 AM  

Well gosh, pretty hard to resist such strong recs from both you and Sandy!

Col (Col Reads) 4/12/13, 7:42 AM  

I remember that summer so well -- I can't wait to read this one!

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/12/13, 8:02 AM  

I'm reading this now too, and it is stunning. The way Wolitzer crafts her sentences is brilliant, and I am close in age to Jules, so I can relate to much of her story.

Julie P. 4/12/13, 8:30 AM  

I'm about as far as you are and loving it!!!! Certain to be a favorite for 2013!

Daryl 4/12/13, 8:51 AM  

adding it to the must read list, thanks!

Anita 4/12/13, 9:08 AM  

I was trying to do the readalong with other bloggers, but other books and life got in my way! I'll be reading soon, but the first couple of chapters have me wanting more!
Love Imprint Fridays!

Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader 4/12/13, 9:47 AM  

I just finished this last night. I can't say enough GREAT things about it. It will absolutely be making my list of favorites for the year :)

JoAnn 4/12/13, 10:08 AM  

I haven't read anything by Meg Wolitzer, but think I NEED to read this book. Sounds wonderful!

Beth Hoffman 4/12/13, 10:17 AM  

For some strange reason I was initially lukewarm about this book when I first heard about it. But now it's going on my list!

Teresa 4/12/13, 11:07 AM  

This is an interesting book. I'm loving the discussion we are having on twitter. For those who are reading it or have already read it, we'd love to have you join us!

bermudaonion 4/12/13, 11:55 AM  

Julie was talking about this the other day. I love books set during that time period!

Zibilee 4/12/13, 12:15 PM  

I also just got this one on audio, but haven't started listening to it yet. It was one of the ones that I squealed over when it came, because Meg Wolitzer is such a talented author. I think this will be my next listen. It sounds really good, and I love the time period.

Laura Fabiani 4/12/13, 12:42 PM  

With all the comments of this book going on the favorite lists of several, I have now added it to my must-reads list.

thecuecard 4/12/13, 6:17 PM  

Sounds like positive buzz on this book from a number of bloggers -- look forward to your thoughts on it after you finish. I will put it on my TBR.

thecuecard 4/12/13, 6:18 PM  

Sounds like positive buzz on this book from a number of bloggers -- look forward to your thoughts on it after you finish. I will put it on my TBR.

River City Reader 4/12/13, 11:01 PM  

If there is a book that ends up knocking this out of my top spot of the year, this will be the most incredible year of reading I can remember.

Chris Howard 4/13/13, 4:01 AM  

Wow this sounds really good! And even though it's deceptively simple, I LOVE the cover!

Chris Howard 4/13/13, 4:01 AM  

Wow this sounds really good! And even though it's deceptively simple, I LOVE the cover!

Laurie C 4/13/13, 1:38 PM  

Count me as one who loved this one! The author and I are just about exactly the same age. I even heard about Richard Nixon's resignation during my only summer camp experience ever (only two weeks, not the whole summer), like Jules did in the book.

Carrie 4/13/13, 3:40 PM  

I didn't care for Ten-Year Nap, but did like the writing - and I really like the premise of this one, so will have to give it a try.

Michele 4/13/13, 11:55 PM  

I'm glad you are giving this one such high marks. I'm one of the few who didn't care for The Ten-Year Nap so Wolizer has been off my radar for some time. And while The Interestings looked promising, I made the mistake of reading a similar-type novel, The Red Book (longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction this year) and was hugely disappointed (poorly executed, I thought). But since everyone is giving this one high marks, it might be worth my while....heading over to my library website to see how many hundreds of holds are already placed, lol.

Lisa 4/14/13, 10:08 AM  

I've had The Ten-Year Nap on my shelves for years but after I read, and was disappointed by, The Uncoupling, I wasn't sure I would ever pick it up. But this one definitely sounds promising; I just might have to give Wolitzer another try.

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