Friday, October 18, 2013

A story of interesting people

Most of the novels I really like are genre fiction: mysteries, science fiction, historical adventures, and so on. I’m starting to read more literary fiction, but the truth is, if you were to recommend to me a book about a group of friends and how their relationships change over forty years -- well, I admit that doesn’t sound like the sort of thing I’m usually dying to read.

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, is that book. I picked it up, not because I wanted to read the saga of the friends, but because I think the cover is so beautiful. Excellent work, cover designers!

Anyway. Here’s the setup: six teenagers meet and become fast friends at an arty summer camp in 1974. The book follows them - Jules, Ethan, Ash, Jonah, Goodman, and Cathy - from that summer through the present day.

Two of the friends marry each other. One earns amazing success, wealth, and fame. One is forced to give up her dreams. One comes out as gay. One leaves the group, amid pain and bitterness. One is rejected by it.

They all make compromises, keep secrets, negotiate with the world and with each other. The way they feel about each other changes over time. It’s inevitable, but in a way it’s a little heartbreaking, too.

I’ve disclosed that this kind of book isn’t really My Thing, but I have to admit that The Interestings is pretty terrific. I was engrossed from beginning to end in the lives of these characters, who are smart and funny -- just flawed enough to be infuriatingly real.

If you like literary fiction, especially stories that unwind realistically over a period of decades, check The Interestings out - I bet you’ll like it. (And the cover’s pretty, too!)

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