Our last book club meeting was about Heft, the novel by Liz Moore about two men whose lives have been revolving around the same woman. The first man, Arthur Opp, was her teacher but now lives completely alone in his Brooklyn flat which he hasn’t left for quite some years. Within that time he has grown for a rather large man to a very large man, eating anything his heart desires. The second man is more of a boy, the young Kel Keller who’s life is completely engulfed by playing sports and taking care of his mother Charlene. She used to have high hopes for her life, learning at a fancy school taught by Arthur, but got pregnant at a young age. Now she pins all of her hopes on Kel, forcing him to go college even though he wants to play pro-baseball. Of course we have a full review of the book which you can read, but now we are in the business of giving you further recommendations if you enjoyed reading Heft.
If you liked the writing of Liz Moore I don’t have super awesome news for you. She doesn’t have a lot of novels to her name yet, but does write a lot of short stories and articles and also makes music. Her other novel was her debut and it is called The Words of Every Song, a mosaic story-structure surrounding the music industry. A very daring first novel in which Liz Moore draws from her own experiences working with music in New York. Some women just have it all…
One of the first things you notice about any description you can find of Heft is that Arthur Opp is very obese. Although this is not the most important characteristic of Arthur at all, it is something that defines him to others and is mentioned over and over again. Another great book in which one the main characters is obese, but much more than just a fat person is The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg. The book is about Edie, a mother of three now grown up kids, who is eating herself to death. Her husband can’t take it anymore and leaves her, ensuring the children are the ones to pick up the pieces. Just like with Heft, it seems easy to judge Arthur or Edie for their problems, but in both books these characters are much more than what they eat.
For anyone who wishes that Charlene had more of a story in Heft, I present to you The Good House by Ann Leary. Just like Charlene, the main character Hildy Good is an alcoholic. Her family has tried to do an intervention, but all it did was push Hildy further away from them. Now she lives in a New England town, trying to cope with her drinking on her own, she also finds herself stuck in the seedy underbelly of her town filled with secrets and scandal. I imagine this book as Charlene pretending to be a detective while still drinking herself to death. It’s fun until suddenly it isn’t.
Kel is a fervent sports player. He plays baseball, basketball, football and whatever else he can get his hands on. His struggle with his mother and his aptitude for sports constantly reminded me of Friday Night Lights, but presented with somewhat less drama. Kel’s entire storyline played out as a combination of The O.C. and Friday Night Lights, but we are not here to recommend movies, dammit! So I can’t tell you to watch these shows (even though you should), however I can tell you to read the book Friday Night Lights was based on. I have no idea if Coach is as endearing in real life as he is in fiction, but does it really matter?
If you liked the letters sent by Charlene and Arthur and you were too annoyed that you didn’t get to read more of them, 84, Charing Cross Road might be the book to fix this. Helene writes a letter to a bookshop inquiring about some second-hand books. This sparks a reply from the stodgy shop keep. The sarcastic and straight forward letters of the American Helene are a stark contrast with the uptight Britishness of the replies which are guaranteed to make you laugh, but will also provide you with enough feelings to wipe away some tears.
These are the books we are recommending this month. What are your book recommendations for Heft or have you read any of these? Let us know what you think!