Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings #17

It's Friday . . . time to share excerpts from one of my current reads with:

  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
This week's selection:
 The Interestings: A Novel 

BeginningOn 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.

My thoughts:  In my experience, it's rare to discover the explanation of a book title in the opening sentences.  In this case, it's intriguing, drawing me in immediately and setting the stage for character introductions.  I can't help but wonder, who are these teens and what makes them interesting? 

Page 56:  "On Thursday nights during that first year after college, Jules and Ash  met for class in the barely furnished living room of a brownstone along with ten other people.  They read scenes, they did exercises, and fairly often someone in the class cried.  Occasionally it was Ash.  Jules never cried there; sometimes, seeing one of the other actors become overwhelmed during an exercise, she felt a spike of nervous tension and a sudden inexplicable desire to laugh."
Overview from 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.

Enjoy life with books...

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Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings #17 was originally published by Catherine for This post cannot be republished without attribution.  

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